Monday, March 1, 2010

J.Crew's March Catalog: Behind the Muse {w/Jenna}

There is a great article over at the StyleList (click here) that has J.Crew's Creative Director, Jenna Lyons, discussing the lovely ladies behind this month's catalog.
J.Crew Spring Catalog - First Look With Jenna Lyons
By Jennifer Paull
March 1, 2010

Remember those dashing real guys from J.Crew's November catalog? They've met their match in a group of real-life ladies featured in the upcoming March mailing (out this week).

Creative director Jenna Lyons gives StyleList a sneak peek at the company's new "muses."

In good Grecian style, J.Crew highlights nine muses, each with an arty bent. The creative team selected these women for their inventive and inspiring tastes. None are professional models, but each has a keen aesthetic sense which shaped their catalog ensembles.

Lyons plucked a few of the muses from her own circle of friends, including author and fashion consultant Amanda Brooks and interior designer Celerie Kemble.

Stylist Dianna Lunt was recruited after the J.Crew team saw her picture on the Sartorialist street style blog. "I have pictures of her on my wall," confesses Lyons. "We cold-called her because we've been personally stalking her style."

A couple of muses cropped up in J.Crew's own backyard. Molly Carey is a designer for the line who creates bib necklaces on the side. Mei Tao, a photographer who works with the company, "wears J.Crew like no one else," promises Lyons.

And who's that girl that you can practically hear laughing right in the center of the catalog cover? Naomi Beckwith, a curator at The Studio Museum in Harlem, whom Lyons met at a museum event.

Each of these women reveal more about their personal style and their creative endeavors on the J.Crew site. These aspects influenced their catalog looks. "We created outfits for them that they'd be comfortable in, that would make them feel like themselves," explains Lyons.

For instance, the polished Kemble appears in a pencil skirt and chiffon-and-petal embellished cardigan. Tougher-edged Lunt, on the other hand, rocks a bomber jacket.

Further into the catalog, the professional models step in, posing in the new season's line. While glimpses of a boat, palm fronds and azure water evoke warm weather, the shots focus on a feeling rather than a location.

"We used the outside more like a studio," said Lyons. "We wanted you to feel that intense sun when summer comes around."

How about one of the biggest seasonal trends: shorts? The catalog is full of them, paired with everything from a boyfriend sweatshirt to sequins.

"Shorts right now are the skinny jeans of summer," counsels Lyons. "If you have the legs for it, by all means, go for it! No holds barred. I think a big oversized men's shirt and little shorts is so sexy."

The menswear pages, meanwhile, also have special guests: The men of "Monocle," a London-based global-culture magazine. J.Crew's CEO Millard "Mickey" Drexler has known "Monocle"'s editor-in-chief Tyler Brûlé for years and gradually the idea of a catalog feature developed.

The "Monocle" staff agreed to let J. Crew do the styling; the photos were snapped in the editorial offices and in front of the brand's shop. "Tyler has an office full of smart, interesting, adorable boys!" enthused Lyons. "What more could you want?"
I loved learning more about J.Crew's "muses". Jenna Lyons has the most-awesome circle of friends too! All of the {inspirational} women selected are absolutely beautiful. I would love to see J.Crew continue this marketing concept in more of their catalogs.

Incidentally, who else laughed out loud when they read the next big thing is ...shorts! I guess I was expecting something more specific (like cuffed satin shorts in navy or something). ;)

What are your thoughts on the article? Are there any tidbits you found particularly interesting? Would you like to see this concept continued in future catalogs?


  1. Wow, shorts as a trend for summmer? Genius!

    But seriously, I love these behind-the-scenes articles and I love the real women models and hearing their stories. Thanks for the good post!

  2. I wouldn't necessarily call a ballerina a person with a normal body or profession, but yes, I guess it is nice that there are some "real" ladies featured. Also, half of those ladies are in the fashion industry. So... yeah. Still a pretty insular view.

    I'm in a creative field so it doesn't matter much to me, but I am sure the techies, bankers, scientists, lawyers, etc. would appreciate a shout out.

  3. I just received this catalog Saturday and it had a 20% off coupon (no minimum). I making my list and checking it twice!

  4. I laughed outloud about the shorts thing too but Jenna also adds with a men's shirt. Sorry but wont' be sporting any men's shirt with shorts. Give me my tank tops with shorts or a cute tee any day. If I am wearing shorts I won't be wearing a men's shirt!!!

  5. What they need to stalk is some style. Shorts. Innovative. I don't care if you don't have nice legs. Hot day and shorts go together. Gawd, you'd think that Jenna and her team invented the concept. WTH.

  6. I am a big fan of shorts, personally. I think everyone -- large, small or in-between -- has a right to not swelter or be forced to wear a skirt in the summer. Down here in NC, temps can reach 100+ in the summer! I'm on the shorts bandwagon fo sho.

  7. I love that they featured "real" women, even though the women they featured are also model-gorgeous themselves! I think companies should do it more often. Every stylish woman does not have to be a 5'11", size 0 beauty.

    Shorts for summer, haha! That's like saying the trend for next winter will be wool coats.

    However, I do like to pair shorts with a men's shirt, more specifically, my boyfriend's shirts. I roll up the sleeves, add a fun necklace, and wear ballet flats.

  8. I'm surprised she didn't say minis would be the next big thing since short skirts seem to be a favorite lately and some are getting to the micro length (Hello Lucca). I love shorts but I really love minis for summer if I'm not just hanging out at home.

    It's nice to read about some non-models and see them in J.Crew clothes, even if they are model-worthy in some opinions. It's not often you see that in other retail catalog or product shots so kudos to J.Crew for doing it in this catalog.

  9. Check out the March Talbots catalogue. Real women, real bodies (gasp, even some with real curves).
    The women seem to be less featured in the Talbots than J.Crew catalogue but I find this way more

  10. Would I like to see this concept in future catalogs? Yes, yes, and yes! J.Crew, give us more real-world, stylish outfits worn by non-professional models. I loved the muses section of this month's catalog.

  11. This is a bit OT, but has anyone seen this Sunday's New York times Style Magazine? On page 100 there's an article about a personal shopper at our favorite store and a fashion writer named Blair Sabol. The article can be viewed online at:

    I knew that the name Blair Sabol rang a bell in my over 60 brain.

    Probably time for me to stop lurking and confess I'm proud to be one of your older JCAs, live in New England and teach Latin. Appreciate reading all the articles and comments and admire everyone's sense of style. Personally, I think that you would all make great real women models for J.Crew! But back to Blair...

    It wasn't until I Googled Blair that I recognized her as the subject of one of the iconic portraits of the Sixties, The Girl in White Boots.

    Here is that article:

    One of her own stories on the state of fashion from the New York Social Diary:

    And she mentions J.Crew in this interview:

  12. Linda, you rock! I love that you're here. :-)

  13. Glad you spoke up Linda! Love this! Esp this article:

  14. @SE Mom, I am also a Talbots shopper and noticed the women featured and it was nice to see body diversity, although I'm not surprised because TLB caters to women who are over 40 in most cases and carries extended misses sizes (past 16) and women's sizes, unlike JCG.

    I liked the men's muse concept and do appreciate that they're trying it for women.

  15. Just got the catalog in the mail. Okay a just threw up the crew-lade. That's it, I'm done. I hate what Jcrew has become. Seriously Jenna, a romper! A one piece jumpsuit! Are you freakin' kidding me!?!?!?! I'm breaking up with you Jcrew. We are done! Do not call, do not write and I will not give you a second glance at the mall or online. Yes I can live without you. Your not the same. You've evolved in a horrible "high-fashion" wannabe way. Stop trying to lure me in with you final sales, and 1 or 2 classic preppy pieces--I already own a closet full. You and me are DONE! For real this time! Oh and you FALL APART, and your thin, and become holey. Yeah I said it, your CHEAP! You've lead me on for 2 years now, and I can't take it anymore! Nice Knowin' yea. {slams the catalog shut}

    I'll still be on the JCA as I love reading the posts and comments, nothing personal.
    PS: don't tell Jcrew but I'm still holding out--Stop reading my conversation Jcrew. Your not entitled to read my thoughts Loser.

    PSS: I swear I'm sane--just trying to have a laugh to cure my Jcrew Blues:)

  16. Linda, you're the best. Thank you for posting and giving us so many wonderful things to read.

    HermesCrew made me laugh out loud and startle the cat. Hilarious -- though I secretly like the romper.

    I'm reconsidering Talbots. Today, was the first time I shopped there. I remarked to the SA that the clothes look a like JC. Apparently, their top creative person came from JC two years ago.

    I admit to having a girl crush on Amanda Brooks. I read her "I heart your style" book and it's one of my favorite style books.

  17. celerie brule.... it's a salad! it's a desert! Seriously, I like catalogs with themes and I am more likely to read them over and develop more of an interest in the items.


Dear J.Crew Aficionadas & Aficionados: Please feel free (and encouraged) to share your thoughts and opinions. :) However, please note that this is still a personal blog. So comments that are considered inappropriate (e.g. obscene, racist, homophobic, personal attacks, rude, and just plain mean) will be removed.

And now back to J.Crew! :)