Inside Fitness Mogul Lorna Jane's Elegant L.A. Retreat
You could hear the collective gasp as the security-lined gates slowly opened upon Lorna Jane Clarkson’s Pacific Palisades estate. We had high expectations going in (it was listed for $16.5 million USD), but Richard Neutra’s iconic Stuart Bailey House exceeded them all. Built in 1948, the historic Case Study design epitomizes midcentury modern elegance with that quintessential Cali-cool flair. As we walked the winding driveway and descended upon the manicured grounds, our jaws were literally agape at the beauty of this secluded oasis. In what could be called a nature reserve more than a backyard, a chorus of local birds provided the idyllic soundtrack while the infinity pool complete with cascading waterfall circulated those negative ions. The serenity is all encompassing. Our team inhaled (deeply) and let out a mutual ahh and soaked up the peaceful view that felt miles away from the busy humdrum of downtown Los Angeles.
A stylish retreat from her very busy and public life is exactly what the Australian activewear icon and her husband, Bill, were looking for. “I’m a real homebody and love nothing better than to relax (in my activewear of course) makeup-free with family and friends,” she told MyDomaine. “Having a home that is private and perfect for relaxed entertaining is what I look for to rest and rejuvenate.” Whether you lead an active life or you’re just a fan of the athleisure trend, you’ve probably heard the name Lorna Jane before. With more than 200 stores across Australia and the U.S. (as well as stockists in Europe, the UK, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East), Clarkson’s namesake is a formidable force in the global activewear industry (she actually coined the term in 1989) and, as we found out, also one of the most hardworking.
In this exclusive chat with the fitness mogul, we discovered her decorating goals for the new space, morning and evening routines, go-to weeknight meals, pantry essentials, healthy travelling tips, and more.
But active living isn’t just a core part of the business philosophy; it’s also how Clarkson leads her life. The brand is just a vessel for spreading the health and wellness word, so naturally, her home is a reflection of that belief system. “My L.A. house doubles as my home and my workspace, so I need it to be both inspirational and rejuvenating,” she said. “Understandably, it was very important to me that healthy design aspects were incorporated. I made sure that I had a yoga and meditation area, an outdoor spa, and beautiful gardens and tranquil environment for both working and entertaining.” The connection with the gardens and the significance and simplicity of the design were key to the overall design concept.
Moving into such an iconic space, Clarkson made sure to keep as close to the original design as possible. This rule also pertains to the interior decorating. “We wanted to showcase the midcentury design while creating a relaxed and inspiring space for me to work,” she said. “It was also important we create an active living space to share with our team and our customers.” The latter requirement also proved to be one of the biggest challenges when designing it. “We had scheduled an (influencer) event in the space, so we only had two weeks to put it all together,” she said.
"I truly believe I have gotten where I am today by simply working hard and making good decisions every day, staying true to myself and what I want to do with my life."
To keep within that laid-back California vibe, Clarkson stuck to a fairly neutral palette to bring the inside and outside together seamlessly. “Then the blue’s added that bohemian accent that I’m really loving right now,” she said.
Being it’s her home away from home, Clarkson the space it to feel just as comfortable as her Australian residence. This meant bringing a few pieces along for the ride. “I think it’s important to have pieces in your home that you’ve collected over time to bring your personality in,” she said. “The Eames chair and footstool in the bedroom I bought for my husband a few years ago, and it traveled with us from Australia. The dining chairs are from our previous beach house in Australia and one of the cane chairs and so many of the books, pictures, and ornaments have been collected by my husband and I over time.”
The global success of the Lorna Jane brand is based on the fact that Clarkson truly does live and breathe the “move, nourish, and believe” mantra. That is moving your body every day, nourishing with healthy foods, and believing anything is possible. “I have no doubt in my mind that I would not have the same level of success or happiness in my life or my business if I did not live by this philosophy every single day,” she stressed. “I strongly believe in the power of my active living philosophy because I know that it works. I’m most passionate about sharing that message with the rest of the world.”
Having a second home in L.A. means she is constantly flying back and forth from Australia. This can throw any healthy routine out of whack, but of course Clarkson has a hack for that. “I have found the easiest way to keep healthy when traveling and to minimise jet-lag is to get into the new time zone ASAP,” she urged. “It can be challenging, but going for a long walk as soon as you’ve unpacked and showered and stocking up on healthy food really does help keep me on track. I also drink lots of water when I’m flying and stay away from caffeine, sugar, and alcohol.”
But there are two major rules she swears by for flight travel: “Get plenty of sleep and drink tons of water. These two little rules of mine also help when adjusting to new time zones.”
Clarkson swears by her morning ritual to maintain sanity and clarity among her hectic work schedule and constant travel. “First and foremost, I set my daily move, nourish, and believe intentions,” she said. “I know from personal experience that everything starts with ‘believe,’ so I state my daily believe statement every morning when I wake up. Try it for yourself and you’ll see that it opens up a whole world of possibilities and really does propel your life forward in the direction you want it to go. I also make a commitment to move my body every day and make great decisions when it comes to what I feed my body and ultimately fuel my life.”
Clarkson’s trick to keeping her diet intact (even when she travels) is having healthy snacks on hand “at all times.” For the shoot, she has a packet of activated nuts and seeds, fresh fruit (an orange and a banana), and homemade peanut butter balls (her favorite). “Keeping healthy snacks on you while you’re busy stops you from making bad food decisions, and they are seriously so much more delicious (and good for you) than anything you’d find in a vending machine,” she said.
But there are some so-called “healthy” foods she’ll never eat. “Protein bars are usually packed full of sugar,” she said, and “anything low-fat. To make low-fat foods taste better, manufacturers usually add tons of sugar. And [I won’t eat] anything with artificial sweeteners, because they are made from chemicals, confuse your body, and have absolutely no nutritional value.”
"I think it’s important to have pieces in your home that you’ve collected over time to bring your personality in."
Being healthy on the go means your pantry also needs to be well stocked with healthy essentials. Clarkson tells us her kitchen is always fully stocked, and she makes sure to always have the following: fresh, in-season fruit and vegetables; good-quality protein; fresh young coconuts (great for smoothies); good-quality protein powder; natural yogurt; homemade granola; fresh coffee; peppermint tea; and kombucha. She also has a myriad of superfoods on high rotation including spirulina, marine collagen, bee pollen, and bone broth.
With so much of her life dictated by a schedule, Clarkson believes in routine and that sleep is “really important.” You’ll never see her drinking coffee or having anything with caffeine in the afternoon. “I also make sure I turn off all devices a few hours before bed, take melatonin half an hour before I want to sleep (when I’m getting used to a new time zone), and put lavender oil on my templates to help with relaxation,” she said. “I also make sure I have a dark bedroom. No TV and no music.”
"I have to make a conscious effort to switch off and truly be in the moment without any distractions."
Of a healthy-living icon to so many women around the world, we had to ask: Who inspires Clarkson? Her honest answer is truly why she has influenced millions globally. “I am inspired by anyone who has the courage to be themselves, has the bravery to chase down their dreams and the desire to inspire others to do the same,” she said.
This striking residence truly does serve as both a home and a sanctuary for the fitness ambassador. It’s where she can switch off and unwind in privacy, detached from technology. “I have to make a conscious effort to switch off and truly be in the moment without any distractions,” she said. “I found the best way to do this is to practice yoga. I also find time to meditate, and every so often I leave home without my phone (gasp!) because I think it’s good to be ‘missed’—don’t you think?”
Working as a fitness instructor in Brisbane, Clarkson started hand-designing activewear out of a personal need for fashionable gym gear. Demand for her custom-made pieces grew so quickly (women in her classes were queuing to place orders) that she soon quit her day job to work on Lorna Jane full-time. But as the business has grown, her healthy active-living philosophy has remained. In fact, it is this very brand ethos that created such a connected global community of empowered women. “I truly believe I have gotten where I am today by simply working hard and making good decisions every day, staying true to myself and what I want to do with my life,” she said. “Most importantly, just believing anything is possible and having a never give up attitude.”