Jenna Lyons, J.Crew Creative Director and fashion icon, is leaving the label after 26 years, to strike out on a new path in 2018
26 years is a long time – in life in general, and especially in the fashion industry. So when the report was published this week that Jenna Lyons would be leaving J.Crew after what felt like forever at the label, the internet got all nostalgic. And true to Gwyneth Paltrow’s concept of “conscious uncoupling,” both sides have made it publically known that all parties are ready to go separate ways after more than a quarter of a century together.
Jenna is passing off the creative baton to Somsack Sikhounmuong, who came to the label two years ago from sister company Madewell and who has already very discreetly implemented his own signature look. The symbiosis of a new mindset that retains the fundamental DNA of the brand is unfolding.
Jenna Lyons won her status as an icon by doing so much right – at the beginning of the week, fashion editors posted true songs of praise for the Boston-born American. It all started when she walked down the red carpet in an ostrich feather skirt which she wore paired with a wool sweater – huge! She redefined “preppy chic,” a way of dressing anchored in her own east coast American culture and characterized by pioneers like Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger which, at the time, couldn’t manage to bring the right stylists on board to translate seemingly classic pieces into more accessible looks. A blue blazer combined with an orange cashmere crewneck sweater, paired with a green and white striped silk skirt; on the ears, a pair of sparkling drop earrings; hair lightly backcombed into a baby hair style; a touch of red to freshen the face: These redefined staples were rediscovered by a whole generation of female spending power.
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But Jenna also set the tone in private. She came out with her relationship with Courtney Crangi, who she left her husband and child for in 2011. And look how advanced it all was at the time: A woman in a position of leadership acted in line with who she is and remained very successful. By all reports, she’s cool and very friendly. At the New York Fashion Week presentation, it was important to her that she was present and always responsive to reporters, accepting every compliment.
No one else redefined a public persona quite like her and had such a good influence on a brand. Revenues sank over the last two years, however, forcing the label to let part of the team go and adapt to the here and now. So it was only logical to make the cut. But you probably won’t have to worry about this superwoman when her contract at the label runs out at the end of 2017 – just like Natalie Massenet, we can hardly wait to see what position she’ll pop up in next.
Julia co-founded one of the first fashion blogs in Germany in 2007 and became a freelance consultant for digital strategies after publishing her first book in 2010. After an eventful four years with Condé Nast working mainly in the digital department of Vogue Germany, she decided to launch her own online magazine with her dream partner, Veronika Heilbrunner. She is based in Berlin and loves to read books.
Updates about her next professional steps can be found at https://www.linkedin.com/in/juliaknolle/.