Benz, known for his quirky, colorful sensibility — he even had hot pink hair for a while — has lengthy experience in the fashion industry, starting his career under Marc Jacobs and most recently designing for fashion label, Bill Blass.
The designer is replacing Johanna Uurasjarvi, who joined J. Crew in June as its chief design officer and replaced the high profile former creative director Jenna Lyons after 26 years at the company. Benz is now heading design for the brand’s women’s collections and will head up the crewcuts kids collection.
From his first stint at J. Crew to his many fashion collections, here is everything you need to know about J. Crew’s new women’s designer.
How He Got His Start in Fashion
Hailing from Seattle, Benz graduated from The New School’s Parsons School of Design, where he interned for Marc Jacobs. Upon graduating, Benz received the CFDA Emerging Designer Scholarship Award for his work under the designer. His first job out of college was as a designer on J. Crew’s women’s team, where he worked under former chairman and chief executive officer, Millard “Mickey” Drexler. He left the position after a year in 2006 to start his own namesake label.
Benz’s Design Aesthetic
Benz is known for pairing classic, American silhouettes with bold colors, which was seen through his designs for his own namesake label during its run from 2007 to 2013. For his last ready-to-wear collection, WWD stated that the clothing “retained all the quirky energy and inventive mix of color and texture Benz has been cultivating since the start.” The collection mixed patterns and textures, like floral-print skirts over pants and darker tones paired with neon hues.
The designer then brought this aesthetic over to Bill Blass, where he was named the creative director in 2014 to relaunch the line. Benz created women’s wear clothing and accessories for the label.
Over his career, Benz has collaborated with a number of brands across fashion, beauty, lifestyle and even toys. In 2012, the designer was tapped by Mattel to design the official campaign outfit for its “Barbie I Can Be…” presidential doll, which was a pink skirt suit with matching heels. In 2010, the designer created a rosy pink lipstick shade for Lancôme’s designer collection called “Chris & Tell” and later designed an illustrated bag for the brand as a gift with purchase. Last year, the designer brought his colorful aesthetic over to Wallshoppe, where he created a collection of graphic wallpaper.
In the Media
Benz made his television debut in 2010 as a guest judge on the Bravo reality show, “The Fashion Show: Ultimate Collection.” In the same year, he filmed a cameo for the HBO series on fashion designers, called “How to Make It in America.”
Read more on J. Crew here:
WATCH: Your Guide to the Biggest Fashion Trends from NYFW