Chris Benz J.Crew designer

J. Crew is going high profile to revive its women’s business.

Chris Benz, formerly creative director at Bill Blass who earlier in his career designed his own fashion label, has been named head of women’s design at J. Crew. Benz is known for his colorful, eccentric style of design and previously worked at J. Crew as a designer on the women’s team from January 2005 to July 2006, which were better times for the brand.

Benz will also head up the crewcuts kids collection and report into the office of the chief executive officer.

J. Crew continues to search for a new ceo to replace Jim Brett who left the company last fall.

Chris Benz 

Benz succeeds Johanna Uurasjarvi, who didn’t stay very long at J. Crew. She joined the business in June as its chief design officer, and earlier worked at West Elm, the lifestyle and specialty home furnishing retailer, where Brett came from to join J. Crew.

J. Crew’s head of men’s design Dan Winkworth will remain with the company. He also reports into the office of the ceo, which includes Michael Nicholson, president and chief operating officer; Adam Brotman, president and chief experience officer; Lynda Markoe, chief administration officer, and Libby Wadle, president of Madewell.

According to a statement Tuesday from J. Crew, “The company recognized the need for a fresh perspective from someone who understood the importance of the brand’s heritage and style to give consumers the designs they have come to expect from the iconic company. Chris Benz’s colorful, distinct aesthetic complements J. Crew’s own.

“These necessary and significant changes are part of the company’s efforts to revitalize the J. Crew brand among consumers, while also becoming more productive and more profitable in the process.”

The Seattle-born Benz is known for blending traditional elements with a carefree spirit of surprise. He graduated The New School’s Parsons School of Design in 2004, after winning the CFDA Emerging Designer Scholarship Award while working under Marc Jacobs.

In February 2007, he presented his first eponymous ready-to-wear collection during New York Fashion Week, and has since expanded his design vision into interiors, beauty, timepieces, toys, social media, film and television.

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