1968/1969 (age 50–51)
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
|Occupation||Fashion designer and business personality|
Jenna Lyons is an American fashion designer and business personality. Lyons was the creative director and president for J.Crew from 2008 and 2010, respectively. In April 2017, her departure from J.Crew was announced after two years of declining sales. In 2013, Lyons had been referred to as the "Woman Who Dresses America". In 2017, The New York Times commented that "the face of the brand became the symbol of its fall".
Early life and education
Lyons was born Judith Lyons in Boston, Massachusetts, but moved to Palos Verdes, California when she was four. Here, she grew up being subjected to heavy bullying, due to her gawkiness and health issues. She suffered from incontinentia pigmenti, a genetic disorder which scarred her skin, caused her hair to fall out in patches, and caused her teeth to be malformed, which is the reason she still wears dentures to this day.
Much of Lyons' outlooks and interests stem from her childhood experiences. About her childhood, she states that her genetic condition "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." Her mother was a piano teacher who encouraged her to get involved creatively, leading to her interest in fashion. She loved to rebel against her school uniform, and she learned to sew in seventh grade, which granted her more confidence. One of her personal motivations for success stems from witnessing her parents' divorce and having to never rely on a man to get by. Due to her interest and talent for fashion, Lyons attended Parsons and graduated in 1990.
Fresh out of Parsons, Lyons landed her first job at J.Crew when she was 21. She began as an assistant designer in men's wear, and her first assignment was redesigning men's rugby shirts for the company. She began to work her way up, and by 2003 she was J.Crew's Vice President of Women's Design.
When current CEO and chairman Millard Drexler was hired in 2003, he and Lyons began to form a close relationship. The two were key players in helping J.Crew triple its revenue from just short of $690 million in 2003 to just shy of $2 billion in 2011. In 2008, Drexler appointed Lyons the executive creative director, and in 2010 he appointed her president as well. Lyons has said her holding both of these roles, "no financial decision weighs heavier than a creative decision. They are equal." In this role, Lyons oversaw the over one hundred designers of J.Crew and directed the layouts, designs, and looks for the J.Crew catalog, or as the company calls it, its Style Guide.
Part of this shift in branding was in their Style Guide. Lyons wanted it to have the feel of a fashion magazine, and the amount of editorial content increased drastically. This included a section entitled "Jenna's Picks" that looked at her opinions and revealed more about her everyday life. It also highlighted Lyons' personal clothing style, described by The New York Times as "geek-chic quirkiness, which mixed camouflage and sequins for day, and denim and taffeta for evening, all of it layered with big costume jewelry".
While this contributed to her fame, it also led to controversy when she was featured painting her then 3-year-old son's toenails hot pink. Though Beckett requested it to be done, some called this act "an attack on masculinity." Others, however, viewed it as a breaking from gender norms. Despite it gaining national attention, such as being featured on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart where it was labeled "Toemaggedon", both Lyons and J.Crew declined to comment.
Lyons' departure from J.Crew in 2017 was connected to declining sales and financial problems at the company. Her overarching role overseeing all aesthetic aspects of the brand (including store design and marketing) was not maintained, with the new chief design officer, Somsack Sikhounmuong, focusing more narrowly on women's, men's and children's clothing.
Lyons was married to artist Vincent Mazeau for nine years, with whom she had a son, Beckett. In 2011, however, the couple divorced and sold their Brooklyn townhome. In 2012, she publicly acknowledged her relationship with Courtney Crangi, and as of 2013 she was living in Tribeca with her son, Beckett. Lyons and Crangi split up in December 2017.
Awards and accolades
- Colman, David (18 January 2013). "Jenna Lyons, the Woman Who Dresses America". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- Sherman, Lauren (3 April 2017). "Jenna Lyons Exits J.Crew". Business of Fashion. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- "A Day in the Life of Jenna Lyons". The Oprah Winfrey Show. 21 April 2010. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- Friedman, Vanessa; Paton, Elizabeth (2017-04-04). "The Jenna Lyons Era at J. Crew Comes to an End". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-04-15.
- Harris, Sarah (28 April 2012). "The creative force behind J Crew". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- Callahan, Maureen (8 April 2017). "How Jenna Lyons got too big for J.Crew's britches". New York Post. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- Sacks, Danielle (15 April 2013). "How Jenna Lyons Transformed J.Crew Into A Cult Brand". Fast Company. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- Young, Molly (14 August 2011). "The J in J.Crew". New York Magazine. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- Munzenrieder, Kyle (3 April 2017). "Jenna Lyons to Exit J. Crew". W Magazine. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- Marine, Brooke (2 December 2017). "Jenna Lyons and Courtney Crangi Have Broken Up". W Magazine. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- Wicks, Amy (31 October 2012). "Jenna Lyons: The Fashion Original". Glamour. Retrieved 31 December 2017.