NEW YORK — The quintessentially collegiate looks of J. Crew might hardly be equated with elaborate, dreamy wedding scapes, but the company is looking to change that.
This story first appeared in the January 28, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
In its spring catalogue, which hits Feb. 2, J. Crew is launching 16 wedding and special-occasion looks — 11 for women and five for men. The pieces include a French lace dress in cream with spaghetti straps, an Empire waist silk tricotine dress and a more casual white suit with cigarette pants.
The new wedding and special-occasion pieces are part of the reinvention of J. Crew being overseen by Millard Drexler, who joined the company as an investor and chairman and chief executive officer in January 2003. Other programs under way include custom monogramming of swimwear, to be introduced in the near future.
In order to convey the brand’s casual approach to dressing, the looks are shown in a leisurely manner, with the models sporting either flip-flops or bare feet. And while the company is showcasing a handful of dresses, it also is putting an emphasis on sophisticated separates for mixing and matching. For fall, it’s planning to offer A-line duchess satin skirts to the knee paired with cashmere twinsets.
“What girl wouldn’t look great walking down the aisle or going to an evening party in that?” asked Jenna Lyons, vice president of women’s design for J. Crew. “But then they would be able to wear those pieces again….We liked the idea of getting people to mix things up a little bit and not do the head-to-toe dress thing.”
The design team was inspired in part by pictures of the Kennedys at Hyannisport dressed for summer cocktail parties looking fresh, crisp and very, well, American. “We took pieces that were iconically ours and made them a bit more special,” said Lyons, like making its traditional slip dress in French lace and its flip-flops in velvet. Retail prices for the wedding and special-occasion pieces range from $88 to $265.
The men’s looks include seersucker suits paired with open-collared shirts, as well as chinos in British khaki with matching jackets.
“We were trying to get people to think out of the box a little bit and to think, ‘Wow, I don’t have to get a taffeta dress,’” said Lyons. “We wanted them to have more options in terms of clothes that felt approachable, affordable and not so old school, but that are also timeless and elegant. We wanted to give them ideas so that they can create their own unique way of interpreting a look for an event of some sort.”