My dream designer, my fashion crush, my spirit animal… Jenna Lyons, the “woman who dresses America.” Yesterday afternoon, J.Crew announced that it’s Creative Director and President who has been with the company for 26 years is stepping away. I couldn’t be more crushed.
Lyons joined J.Crew in 1990, although her role was elevated after Chairman Mickey Drexler came on board in 2003. Through their unique partnership, they managed to transform J.Crew into a cultural phenomenon in the 90’s and early 2000’s, transforming the way a generation of American men and women dress with Lyons’ energized, whimsical, tongue-in-cheek take on classic preppy silhouettes.
From Jenna’s vision, neons became the J. Crew definitive color palette. Allover color, like the rainbow-hued skirts and blazers of Fall ’15, were normalized with chambray shirts and khaki trousers.
Her candy-coloured designs — from the now-classic “Bubble” necklace to the “No. 2” pencil skirt — impressed themselves on current fashion in a way rarely seen at the mass level. In 2010, Drexler promoted her to president, reflecting her influence in design and at the company.
I love fashion, because it can change who you are and how you feel, and that can be magical.” ~ Jenna Lyons
But lately, Lyons has become something of a cultural icon in her own right. Her personal style — statement eyewear, oversize suiting, prints on prints — became copied the world over. Just this past Friday, Lyons was captured on J.Crew’s Instagram handle celebrating the retailer’s self-made holiday, National Stripes Day.
This is a woman who expanded our fashion horizons by increasing our tolerance for color and pop. During Lyons’s tenure, bright, silk pajama pants of all kinds became a daywear norm, and sparkles were sprinkled across the neckline of a J.Crew tee to the sequin trim along the hem of a pant.
And then… the ACCESSORIES! Jenna defined J.Crew’s accessories offering with eclectic, oversize jewelry. That woman in your office elevator wearing the giant floral beaded earrings and chunky gold necklace? Distinctively J.Crew. Lyons’s vision for jewelry was part estate sale and part art collector, fusing turquoise with tortoiseshell and enamel with crystals for perfectly charming, and immensely wearable, results.
While Lyons’ post-J.Crew plans are not yet known, the ever-lasting mark she has made in defining American fashion for the past decade cannot go unacknowledged. For me, her J.Crew catalogs helped me dress every morning… embracing color and tailored pieces in unforgettable combinations. I raise a glass to Jenna, and I can’t WAIT to see what, and where, she designs next!