Chris Benz J.Crew designer

J. Crew has named a new head of women’s design: American designer Chris Benz.

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.

Designer Chris Benz prepares for his fall 2012 runway show.Chris Benz Fall 2012 RTW, New York

Designer Chris Benz in 2012.  George Chinsee/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock

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

Fashion designer Chris Benz prepares for his spring 2008 collection in New York City.Chris Benz, New York

Benz prepares for his spring 2008 collection.  Pasha Antonov/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock

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.

Chris Benz Spring 2013 ready-to-wear collection

Chris Benz’s Spring 2013 ready-to-wear collection. 

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.

Notable Collaborations

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: 

Mickey Drexler Steps Down as J. Crew Chairman

Jim Brett Out as J. Crew CEO 

J. Crew Group Narrows Losses

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