J. Crew continued to set the bar for brands classified as contemporary, commercial, approachable, accessibly priced — call them what you will — seeking to strike an aspirational tone during fashion week. Thankfully, J. Crew has not strayed from its open-house presentation format but improved it for fall with a more crowd-friendly, open-curve stage setup. All the better to view the clothes.
The women’s lineup was inspired by Berlin’s Weimar Republic of the Twenties and Thirties, from which head of women’s design Tom Mora extracted moody colors — burgundy, navy and camel offset by shots of pale pink — and the practice of women wearing men’s clothes, both a natural fit for J. Crew’s ethos. A classic, mannish coat shape came in a range of Harris Tweeds as well as more elaborate fabrications such as a navy-and-camel tweed thickly woven into a graphic pattern and a beautiful merino style with a blue-and-ivory shearling collar. Mora made a point of luxury with great shearling knits and leather work, but didn’t abandon J. Crew’s casual core: There were sweatshirts and denim, though a fancy bonded Japanese kind.
Frank Muytjens, men’s design director, showed a collection that had a polished-relaxed sensibility with touches of masculinity. “For inspiration, I looked at the waterfront of New York in the Forties — the dockworkers and longshoremen,” said Muytjens, pointing to a bomber with a shearling collar over a crewneck sweater and selvage-denim jeans. Key pieces included cashmere waffle-weave sweatpants, patchwork argyle sweaters and an unconstructed camel topcoat.