Jenna Lyons: Fashion is magic

Jenna Lyons’s school difficulties made her determined to work in the “magical” world of fashion.

The president and executive creative director of J. Crew has always loved clothes. As a youngster she struggled at school because she felt like a misfit and looking at designer outfits was a way for her to escape.

“It 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,” she told guardian.co.uk.

Eventually Jenna decided to take a class where she learnt to sew. Realising how interested in it she was, her grandmother gave her a sewing machine and Vogue subscription and Jenna never looked back.

Although the star knows all about clothes, she admits sometimes getting it wrong.

“On my last trip to London I went to Dover Street Market and saw this Comme des Garçons trench coat, and I was just like: WOW! I was desperate to shop, and when I walked in I was feeling pretty good, and I thought… I'm gonna buy this thing! I put it on this morning and I said to myself: 'Oh Jenna, what were you thinking?” she laughed.

Jenna is renowned for making J. Crew one of the most sought after stores around at the moment. She has transformed it into the sort of place people are dying to visit each week.

Former GAP CEO Millard ‘Mickey’ Drexler helped with the change. He joined the team in 2003 and by 2011 the label made almost $2 billion.

Mickey loves the company – so much so a loud speaker system has been installed at the firm’s headquarters so he can speak to staff whenever he wants.

“When he was installing the system, I was like: are you kidding me with this?’” Jenna said.

“He even checks in from holiday – he's like: 'Hey, I'm in Saint-Tropez; it's gorgeous here! Anyway, I'm having lunch at Club 55 and you should see all these people wearing white! We should do more white, it's summer, do we have enough white?' It's hilarious – I love it.”

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