After last season’s show, Tom Mora, J. Crew’s head of women’s design, took a big vacation and returned to his fall drawing board. “What to do? What to do?” he wondered. Luckily, he had been in Marrakech, where he observed the city’s colors, textures and stylistic mix of djellaba worn under tailored blazers. This mix-and-match ethos dovetailed seamlessly with what J. Crew is about, and the resulting collection was one of the brand’s most vibrant, ornate and expensive-looking in a while. Mora did a great job translating exoticism into his American parameters, elevating them while doing so. A navy-and-burgundy cashmere sweater featured elaborate silk hand-embroidery in an exotic tile pattern. It was worn with a pink-and-gold floral jacquard pencil skirt and a classic neat blazer. There were also two knockout tailored coats, a bonded camel wool style with exaggerated lapels traced in big rhinestones, and a black wool one with a red graphic silk print bonded to the body. “When you’re doing the perfect coat, the perfect pant, the perfect blazer, you really have to think about fabrications and textures,” said Mora, who clearly did his homework on vacation.
Men’s wear designer Frank Muytjens, on the other hand, looked to the English countryside for his lineup of tweeds, herringbones and black watch fabrics. They were worked on slim-cut suits, including a new model, the Ludlow Fielding, featuring extra detailing on the lapel and a throat latch. Athletic influences — beaten-up one-off sweatpants and formfitting sweatshirts — added a youthful touch, while updated Fair Isle sweaters offered a pop of color.