Though Jenna Lyons, Creative Director for J.Crew, was the talk of the town at fashion week she decided not to be the talk of the town for Oscar week. Jenna turned down an opportunity to design a dress for an actress to wear on the red carpet (I’m envisioning some sort of beautiful pink concoction) but this was actually a smart move.
In a recent interview, she recounted the situation saying “We just got asked to do something for somebody for the Oscars, literally this morning. I said, ‘When are the Oscars? Two weeks? No way.’ We can’t turn samples and make really good-quality clothes on such a tight timeline.” Sometimes even though an opportunity sounds amazing you have to realize that if you rush and don’t put in the time and effort it requires it could damage your career. As Liz Doupnik of StyleCaster wrote, “We love the fact that someone is standing up to the ridiculous timelines designers are expected to adhere to AND adamantly refusing to sacrifice the quality of their work. Plus, what’s worse than having a dress show up on a Worst Dressed List? We think next to nothing.”
This is a great piece of advice. Something may seem like a no-brainer because its glamorous and will get a lot of exposure but you have to be able to put the work into it. And Jenna does not want to do anything to mess up her brilliant career. Jenna has doubled the sales of J.Crew in the last seven years resulting in a company valuation of $1.7 billion and has been the visionary force behind what has become known as the “cult of J.Crew“, (of which I have been a proud member since 1995). Anthony Sperduti, a co-founder of the store-cum-advertising agency Partners & Spade, said about Jenna, “Look, it’s not a hard thing to be a tasteful designer and cater to a small community. That’s an easy thing. For someone to bring a level of taste—to introduce large portions of our country to newer things, interesting notions—that’s the challenge. And she’s done that impeccably well…I can’t tell you the amount of women for whom Jenna invariably comes up in conversation. I don’t know that many designers in her role that you could say the same thing about. Not from a company of that scale. She has in many ways become the face of J.Crew and she does not want to jeopardize that.