Ladies, put your catalogues away! J.Crew’s first international store opens this August in Toronto. ELLE Canada spoke with president and creative director Jenna Lyons—J.Crew’s often-emulated style maven—about the new store and what she will be wearing this season.
What is unique about shopping in your store?
“Two things you don’t get online or from the catalogue are the personal touch and the sense of community that we try to establish in the store. Our personal shoppers are really a huge part of what we do. Personal shoppers are usually found in high-end stores, but we pay a huge amount of attention to that level of service—and we don’t charge for it.”
I’ve read that the fall collection was inspired by movies like The Great Gatsby and Bonnie and Clyde. Is this true?
“Yes, it’s true. Those films were very influential in shaping the women’s collection. It’s subtle, but we’re loving the shift in proportion— the waist coming up higher, colour getting a little bit more intense—and we’re really feeling the man-tailored pieces mixed in. It’s important now because seasons are changing and shifting so much—fall isn’t fall anymore; it’s more like end-of-summer. So, how do you kind of extend the summer a little bit? I think colour is a great way to do that.”
How would you describe the J.Crew look?
“I think what’s important, and part of the heritage of the brand, is this underlying sense of being classic. But, to me, classic really stems from men’s tailoring: the white shirt, the classic trousers, the trench coat. No matter what we’re doing, that is always the undertone. And whether the feminine twist is a shift in proportion, sequins or a sense of colour, it’s always about finding that new thing that makes it feel a bit more feminine.”
What’s the best example of that in this collection?
“We have man-tailored trousers, but we’ve skinnied them up and cropped them. They come in 10 beautiful colours and a great little Harris tweed. I love them with a high heel.”
How do you think fashion has changed since you started at J.Crew in 1990? “It’s interesting. When I was growing up—and if you look at the history of fashion, like in the heyday of Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent— everyone wore the same thing. It wasn’t necessarily about having personal style; it was about looking the part. There’s something beautiful about that—there’s a unity. But now it’s really about being your own person. Being unique is more interesting than fitting in. People are obsessed with Anna Dello Russo, Giovanna Battaglia and Tommy Ton because they show their personalities through their styles. At J.Crew, we focus on quirky personal style. It’s not about cookie-cutter looks or wearing a matching outfit; it’s about making it your own.”
Jenna’s plum picks
“For fall, I’m completely obsessed with a beautiful, bright, electric purple, as well as a very deep purple. We have everything in these shades: cashmere, high-waisted pants and a soft chiffon blouse that really does feel Bonnie and Clyde. We even have a bag that’s a cobalt-blue-purplish colour.” ($278, at J.Crew at Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Toronto; jcrew.com)