Arts Post
Posted at 04:03 PM ET, 09/14/2011

J. Crew shows mass market has its place

A show of color and sheen adds Lyons’ signature dazzle to the daytime. (Ned Martel - The Washington Post)
At J. Crew, Jenna Lyons’ confident clothes are not premised on a hypothetical: you can wear these looks if you buy a retreat in Montego Bay or if you marry a toreador in Madrid. Fun to think about, but more fun to think that you can wear something special the next time you wake up, whatever tomorrow brings. J. Crew’s first Fashion Week presentation was decidedly not an experiment. Each carefully assembled model wore something that insisted, This outfit works.

The bags and shoes are not afterthoughts, with hardware and tints that add their own impact. (Ned Martel - Ned Martel)

Lyons continues to impress upon the universe that mass market can lead the market. Her clothes countered Miranda Priestly’s famous cerulean soliloquy, insisting instead that mall fashion need not wait its turn. Lyons’ brain is not the first to fuse fuschia with orange but she’s the first to make the radiant colors look less rarified. She loves a day sequin, a neon blast and then a little khaki come-down. Like the designer herself, the clothes are magically noticeable but never maniacally so.

Standing tall and hanging out, Lyons is a corporate leader with a casual air. (Ned Martel - Ned Martel)

Her Dutch-born J. Crew colleague, Frank Muytjens, proved an able innovator on the men’s side of the room they shared at Lincoln Center. In the iconography of his ensembles, Ivy jocks met creative professionals with a firm handshake. A suited model never looked too square, and a jacketed beardster never looked too tame. His madras plaids played with color and his softer fabrics played with construction. His clothes have that Scandinavian playfulness that is buoying pop music and restaurant menus, along with a hint of Brooklyn scruff.
(Ned Martel)
But the true star in CEO Mickey Drexler’s creative empire was Jenna the Giant. And as the fashion press lionizes her, she’s obviously Lyon-izing the industry.
The men's looks, designed by Frank Muytjens, encouraged guys to avoid the usual darkness in what they wear. (Ned Martel - Ned Martel)

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