Ten Questions: RSF designer digs cashmere

Fashion designer Lena Evans was born in Saigon, Vietnam, to parents of French and Vietnamese descent.

Using her birth-given Vietnamese name (Phueng Ngoc translated to English is Jade Phoenix) as the label's moniker, Evans custom-designs 100 percent cashmere sweaters for women, girls, men and boys. They are adorned with precious and semiprecious jewels that beautify the garments and serve as functional buttons.

The Jade Phoenix line of sweaters was born from Evans' love of cashmere and her frustration with the low-quality buttons (typically plastic or shell) that were used on them.

A successful early career as a film finance and production executive sealed Evans' relationships with celebrity clientele. With a desire to indulge her passion for fashion and luxury, she cultivated the symbiosis of the celebrity-driven fashion and film industries to pave the way for a natural transition as an insider in the high-fashion world.

In addition to her passion for fashion, food and adventure, Evans serves the community by being on the boards of directors for several local arts organizations. She cherishes family time with her two sons and her real estate entrepreneur husband, and also enjoys golf, yoga, tennis and travel.

What brought you to Rancho Santa Fe?

I came to Rancho Santa Fe from Beverly Hills to be with the love of my life. We decided that Rancho Santa Fe would be a better place to raise the children than Los Angeles. We have a 2-year-old son, and I have a 15-year-old son.

What keeps you there?

The quality of life in the Ranch is lovely. Rancho Santa Fe is a nice place to be an adult with a family, whereas Los Angeles is a great place to be young and single. Rancho Santa Fe is a much slower-paced existence and the antithesis of frenetic L.A.

If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the Ranch, what would it be?

I would love if Rancho Santa Fe were more hip and dynamic. The lifestyle in the Ranch and San Diego is so laid back that one typically feels the need to travel elsewhere for excitement, culture, fine food and diversity.

Having said that, I do feel that San Diego is growing up and slowly becoming a more cosmopolitan destination. Fashion, cultural offerings and fine food are very important to me, and I am trying on many different levels to help these areas of San Diego reach a higher level of significance.

Who or what inspires you?

Brilliant minds inspire me. Brilliance takes many different forms - an artist, a musician, a great storyteller - anyone expert at their craft. I have always had a strong desire to be exposed to knowledge. I love to learn and expand my intellect. My children inspire me on the heart level.

If you were hosting a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

Coco Chanel, Sigmund Freud, the Dalai Lama, John Lennon, Tiger Woods, Graydon Carter, William Shakespeare and James Bond (OK, fictional, but love the idea of having him there!).

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