{monday muse: jenna lyons...}

hello everyone! i hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  

this month's monday muse is none other than jenna lyons, president and creative director of j.crew. (tell the truth, you saw this one coming, right?) i've made it no secret that i love j.crew, both for their clothes and their branding. however, this post isn't about j.crew, the company, so much as it is about the player(s) who elevated j.crew to the next level. lyons' personal style is essentially personified in the j.crew brand. you can almost use the two words interchangeably.

lyons was born in boston, massachusettes and raised in palos verses, california. she stands at six feet without heels and credits her status as an outsider growing up as the catalyst for her fashion career. "she had a hard time at school – long; lanky; imperfect teeth; an insecure misfit, which made her easy prey for the other kids. 'it made me introverted, but it was also the reason i loved fashion, because it can change who you are and how you feel, and that can be magical.'" [1] 

from california, lyons moved to new york to attend parsons school of design and attributes her move to new york in helping her to develop her own style. “suddenly, i saw that if i wanted to wear six-inch stilettos, then people would think that was cool and interesting, that it was ok to look different, to accentuate what’s positive. i remember thinking, moving to new york was the best thing that could have happened to me, and i am never going home.” [2] after graduating from parsons, and a small stint with donna karan, lyons was hired by j.crew as an assistant designer in 1990.

the rest you could say is history, except for one key ingredient. enter millard "mickey" drexler, chairman and ceo of j.crew. in the late 1990's through early 2000's, drexler was best known as the ceo of gap inc., responsible for transforming the company and "changing the way america dressed." when he was abruptly fired by gap inc. in 2003, j.crew swiftly scooped drexler up and charged him with reinventing the j.crew brand. sometime after his arrival, drexler recognized lyons' potential and promoted her to vice president of women's design. instead of designing for price points, drexler gave lyons and her design team the creative autonomy they needed to elevate j.crew to its current fashion-forward status.

however, as we all know, the fashion world is finicky. what's in today, is out tomorrow. so how does lyons maintain j.crew's position in the top ranks? a few things come to mind. first, j.crew has realized the perfect ratio between quality and price point. people will pay a little extra for quality and attention to detail. second, and of utmost importance, they try to maintain a connection with their core consumer.

in a 2006 vogue interview lyons says, "i learned early on that what i wanted to do was something that was approachable and that a lot of people could afford. exclusion is not interesting to me." [2]

jenna lyons, a woman who was once an outcast and found her escape in fashion, honed her personal style and steadily built up a company around it, and embraces inclusion. these are the reasons why ms. lyons is this month's monday muse.

happy monday and happy new week everyone!

ps~i'm going to assume you've already seen photos of lyons' former home. ah-mazing!

image source: lyon in her office photographed by myra iqbal / lyon in her home photographed by frances tulk-hart / lyon at j.crew fall 2012 presentation photographed by dario cantatore
quote source: [1] j.crew aficionado / [2] the fashion spot via a 2006 vogue interview / [3] style.com

17 Send Me Your Thoughts:

  1. Love love love Jenna Lyons old home! I pinned a lot of photos from it. The garden is also on my inspiration list for our garden redo. She definitely brings great style to all aspects of her life and ours (J.Crew)...Have a great week!

  2. You guys are so far ahead of me. I haven't seen her old home, so that's my next stop after this. But that one quote: "Exclusion is not interesting to me. I LOVE that. J.Crew's approachable style is what's so appealing to me. I love that you can wear their pieces and still not look like everyone else. What the heck does her current home look like??? xoxo

  3. I watched that documentary on CNBC (MSNBC? One of the two) on Mickey Drexler and the J.Crew empire and thought of you the whole time. You've seen it, right? I love Jenna Lyons and I love J.Crew; both can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned, and her Brooklyn townhouse was FABULOUS. The dark gray bedroom and the open bathroom? Mega-swoon. Her backyard was perfection, too. Shame about the divorce, I'm pretty sure I'd stay for the house alone, if nothing else.

    Anyway, what a wonderful post, T! Love all the quotes you included. As a J. Crew junkie this was nice for my addiction :) Her office is so amazing, I did a post on it months back and just love every detail about her space. xo

  4. T I love your love of Genna Lyons and J.Crew! I hope you’ve tweeted her so that she can see.
    I really like her geek chic look. I don’t hink I’d want to be six foot tall though to be honest. She’s very cool. Off to pin a hundred photos of her apartment xx

  5. She is on the top of my list for style icons. I can't get enough of her and what she's created a J.Crew. To think she grew up right near me in Palos Verdes. I often wonder if she ever comes back this way. Doubt it. I wish she was on twitter, etc. I'd follow her every word. T

  6. Really nice post T. She's amazing and your dedication and enthusiasm for J.Crew is admirable.

    I have never seen her former apartment so thanks for that. It does look amazing. I think she's beautiful and we forget how difficult it must be to be that tall and lanky when growing up.....

    Great Monday Muse. Once again, thank you for the inspiration!

    PS. Not to sound too pushy, can you fix this Disques problem so Annie and I can have our name linked? Thanks!

  7. Isn't it the best?! I think it's the first home I've ever seen where I wouldn't change one thing, not even the furniture.

  8. While I was doing research for this post, I read that the home was just sold and her forwarding address is somewhere in Tribeca (sadly, no photos). Hey, I don't know why I didn't find this post earlier, but here are some better photos of the home: http://bit.ly/NgTTAG

  9. Great post and well written! I bet you got all A's on your english papers didn't you? I love everything about J crew now! I actually remember that period where I fell out of love with them because of their blandness. so to see Jenna lyons turn it around is both amazing and inspiring

  10. Can you believe I didn't even know the doc existed until I was doing research for this post?! Now, I'm going to see if I can get my hands on a recording. (Maybe YouTube?) Another thing I learned while writing this post, perhaps they talked about this in the doc, Drexler installed a PA system throughout the entire J.Crew headquarters so that at any given moment he can speak what's on his mind to all the employees. Sometimes it's an inspirational quote. Sometimes it's, "I'm in St. Tropez right now and everyone is wearing white. Do we have enough white in the summer collection?" Wow, right?
    I agree, Jenna's former home is a mega-swoon! And, her office was my inspiration when my husband let me decorate his work space.

  11. Hm, I never thought to tweet this post so Lyons could see it. I suppose that would be the sensible thing to do. ;)
    Yes, geek chic, casual chic, tomboy chic...It all appeals to me. Six foot would be difficult to carry off, but she has definitely found the way.

  12. Learning that she was raised in Southern California was a fun fact to discover. I wish she Tweeted too. Actually, I wish J.Crew did a better job with Twitter. I feel like their Tweets are few and far between. Oh, well. Their blog is really great.

  13. Oh, glad you enjoyed. You know, what Jenna experienced growing up is probably very similar to what all those super models experience.
    PS~Duly noted. ;)

  14. Beautifully researched and written. You have a great talent honey. And by the way I Love love love Jenna Lyons old home! xxx

  15. Hi Theresa! I‘m not a huge fan of JCrew ... actually, I‘m quite blah about fashion. I mean, I like clothes and outfits, but I'm not brand loyal in anyway and I don't have a favorite designer or brand. It's a world I don't know much about. That said, I still really enjoyed this post and you have shown that Ms. Lyons is definitely worthy of being Monday's Muse ;)


  16. She has a great workspace, look at the beautiful pink and bright yellow combination. The cases are awesome. Thanks for sharing T xx

  17. ... it made me introverted, but it was
    also the reason i loved fashion, because it can change who you are and
    how you feel, and that can be magical.'" [1]
    Yup, mm-hm, ditto - I can totally relate to this post! :D

    I was painfully shy as a child but I loved fashion, dressing up and the fact that I could express myself in other (more visual, creative) ways. My mother taught me that everyone is beautiful and unique and should therefore hang on to that special something that sets them apart from the crowd. I still think it's the greatest gift she's ever given me.

    Awesome, awesome post! :) x


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