Vogue calls her the ‘First Lady of Cool’. This is Jenna Lyons, creative grand fromage of J Crew, whose kooky style pushed the once square and boxy mail-order fashion brand from just about nowhere to infinity and beyond.
This she did under the whip of the fearsome Mickey Drexler, the man who turned Gap around then turned his attention to J Crew and made it America’s next big thing in fashion retailing. In the eight years since Drexler’s broom swept clean, profits are up 40%. That’s in spite of having the great recession butt in on his game plan.
They say what made J Crew turn the corner, is colour. Colour, and ‘elegantly twisting the classic.’
Enough to reel Michelle O in for the occasional frock. In fact, all four Obamas wore something J Crew on inauguration day, says Vogue. Now J Crew is launching in England. They’re speculating that Jenna might have what it takes to get the Duchess of Cambridge pop in for the odd bit of sweater and skirt.
Dressing a house is no different from dressing people. It’s just bigger. This why I’m fascinated to see Jenna’s house. These shots, swiped from Vogue (by way of The Selby), show you how salty she is. See those yellow stripes on the ceiling of son Beckett’s all-black room. Do you see that? It’s beautiful.
I love it that her mom was a piano teacher, her husband is an artist, and that her grandmother gave her a sewing machine and a subscription to Vogue when she was a teenager, to get her amped for a career in fashion. Also, when her Beckett said “Mommy please paint my toenails,” she obeyed. (Hooboy. Apparently there was a big stink about the toenail painting story. For heaven’s SAKE. The tot is barely out of nappies.)
I’m impressed that Jenna doesn’t put her shoes away. Not even for Vogue. Or file all the crap on her desk. But the nicest thing about Jenna is that she seems both incredibly fascinating and completely normal, all in one breath. She makes me feel fine about leaving my shampoo and tomato sauce bottles out.
Jenna’s husband Vincent describes how tuned into colour his wife is:
“My favourite moment was when Jenna put up colour swatches downstairs – three or four different blacks – and stood there asking me and the decorators which we preferred. We replied that they were all the same and she went, ‘No – this one is blue/black, this one is green/black, this one is charcoal/black…”
What Jenna Lyons say about colour is for real. See here.