After 26 years, Jenna Lyons, J.Crew’s longtime creative head, is parting ways with the company, Business of Fashion reports. Current womenswear designer Somsack Sikhounmuong will be promoted to chief design officer and will immediately oversee women’s, men’s, and children’s.
“Jenna and I got together and we both agreed it was time for a change,” J.Crew chief executive Millard “Mickey” Drexler told the trade. “That being said, she’s got plans to do other things. It’s been a great run. There’s a lot of mutual respect between Jenna and me.”
Lyons, who has yet to reveal her next move, has been something of a cultural icon and a face for the specialty retailer. Her vision—one of poppy colors and preppy-chic wares—transformed it into a mainstay of casual American fashion.
Upon graduating from Parsons at 21, Lyons landed her first job at J.Crew as an assistant menswear designer. In 2003, she became vice president of women’s design, and seven years later was appointed as president, a role she held ever since. It goes without saying that Lyons’ influence at the brand has been enormous—the Times even likened her to Tom Ford, who reinvented Gucci in the late ‘90s and early aughts. A favorite of Michelle Obama, under Lyons, J.Crew has been both cohesive and high quality. Rich with embellishments, each season saw the brand reinvigorate basics with things like sequins, tulle, and bold colors.
The creative head was forward-thinking, too. Lyons, who is openly gay, drew controversy in 2011 when she featured an image of her painting her son’s toenails hot pink in an advertisement for J.Crew’s Style Guide. Last year, she showed up to the Met Gala with Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner in matching J.Crew tuxes and thick-rimmed glasses (her take on cloning—the theme was “machina”).
“It has been beyond my wildest dreams to work with such an amazing team of people at such an incredible brand and alongside Mickey—one of retail’s most talented visionaries,” she said in a statement. "I am excited about the next chapter for J.Crew as well as the opportunity for other creative leaders within the organization to step up and take on new responsibilities. Having spent the better part of my life with J.Crew, I feel an immense pride and love for everyone at the company.”
Wherever she goes next, the notoriously modest Lyons can rest assured she has solidified her role as a pillar of American fashion.