Studio Tour: Cynthia Rowley®

as a New York–based fashion designer, mother of two, art collector and candy-shop owner, Cynthia Rowley is something of a modern-day Renaissance woman. (you know, if Renaissance women wore bonded neoprene leggings.) she’s also a die-hard surfer, so it’s no surprise that when she couldn’t find surf gear to wear out on the water in Montauk, she designed her own.
“I’m never not in a wetsuit,” says Cynthia of her time spent out in Montauk, where she has a weekend home with her husband, Bill Powers, and their daughters, Kit and Gigi. “You can wear a wetsuit to swim, for scuba diving, water sports. It’s great sun protection.”

Rowley, who has been surfing (or “trying to surf” as her husband jokes) for the past 14 years, says that the addition of swimsuits, rash guards and wetsuits to her apparel
collection was largely inspired by her own love of being on the water. “I love designing our swimwear so much that some days it’s all I want to do,” she says. “I definitely make a better designer than a surfer though.”
Every May, Cynthia takes her design team on a trip to the beach to get them on the water and familiarize them with what makes a good wetsuit. “Early on when we started designing wetsuits, some of the design team didn’t know things unique to surfing, like that
zippers need to be in the back or that there’s wax on the top of the board,” she says. For her collaboration with J.Crew, Cynthia took her classic neoprene wetsuit and created two colorways just for us. Little details like welded seams, side zips and a Velcro® back closure are carefully considered—and practical. “The wetsuit is cut high, so it feels a bit sexy,” she says. “It’s fashionable, but it’s also totally functional.”

Photography by Bryan Derballa.

To shop the Cynthia Rowley for J.Crew colorblock wetsuit, click here.

On the Rise: Juan Carlos Obando

one of the best parts of being involved with the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund is getting to work with up-and-coming talent, since each spring, we collaborate with the winners and runners-up on a capsule collection. this year, CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund runner-up, eveningwear designer Juan Carlos Obando, gave us a closer look as the inspiration behind his collection.
We were struck by how beautiful your office is—it’s like an art gallery curated
with thoughtful objects.

Honestly, I have always been obsessed with bookstores and wanted to recreate that feeling in my office. I love books. I’m constantly drawing upon them for inspiration or to get an idea going. As for the objects, they’re mostly things I find on my trips—some are rare and old, others are just witty and new, but they make me smile and remember certain moments in my life.

Clearly your background in graphic design has influenced your aesthetic. Tell us a bit more about this transition from art director at Saatchi & Saatchi to fashion designer?
I think that transition hasn’t really happened yet! It’s so funny, people ask this question a lot. I do have things that heavily influence my collections and some of them really come from my interest in graphic design—from the design of the show itself to the lookbooks and garment construction. I think of it as one interlinked narrative.

We’re told you have 1,024 books in your collection. Any favorites?
Juergen Teller is fantastic, and Bruce Weber and really any issue of Egoïste are at the top of my list. And, for sure, anything from Matthew Barney and Richard Serra.
What do you love about 192 Books in Chelsea?
I really love it here—the lighting is great and it’s supercomfortable to browse through books in a tranquil environment. I purchased a Raymond Pettibon book I had been tracking for a while too.
Safe to say these design and art books act as a kind of muse for you when you’re designing?
Always. And sometimes they tell you what to avoid—it all works as a great educational source.

When you think about the pieces you created for us at J.Crew—a silk georgette blouse, a mixed-media jumpsuit, a flouncy polka-dot skirt—do any books in particular come to mind?
I’ll have to go with All-American by Bruce Weber.

Photography by Bryan Derballa.

Special thanks to 192 Books in New York City.

To shop the entire Juan Carlos Obando for J.Crew collection, click here.

On the Rise: Marc Alary

one of the best parts of being involved with the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund is getting to work with up-and-coming talent, since each spring, we collaborate with the winners and runners-up on a capsule collection. this year, CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund runner-up, fine jewelry designer Marc Alary, tried his hand at costume jewelry just for J.Crew.
Marc, photographed on set with a model wearing a Marc Alary™ for J.Crew passerina tee based on a watercolor design he painted just for us.

Marc told us the Metropolitan Museum of Art is often a source of inspiration for him so we tagged along on a recent visit.

You went to art school originally, what drew you to fine jewelry making?
I started out doing illustrations, but I was always frustrated that I couldn’t carry the illustration with me; I needed to have something I could hold in my hand. Eventually, I started working in fashion doing prints and graphics for T-shirts. It added a new dimension to my work as it related to the body, yet it still wasn’t enough. It was only when I first tried my hand at jewelry that I knew it was what I wanted to do.

Is there a particular period of art you feel is closest to the aesthetic of your jewelry?
That is a good question, but I’m not sure I have exactly the right answer. I’d say Etruscan art and the end of the nineteenth-century Art Nouveau and Lalique. Then there are artists who came much later—Calder, Giacometti and Les Lalanne.

What are your favorite parts of the Met?
I love the Greek and Roman art for the lighting in the gallery, as well as all the tones of the marble statues. But I also love the medieval art and European paintings.

How did animals come to play such a prevalent role in your jewelry design?
My mom was very passionate about animals, and she used to collect books and magazines like National Geographic. I spent most of my childhood flipping through those magazines and fantasizing about seeing those incredible animals in real life.

Apart from the Met, where else do you find inspiration?
In pretty much everything, from something I see in the street or at the flea market to literature (for example, the opera, The Tales of Hoffmann). It could be a show, a ballet or an opera, or a detail of a sculpture or a fountain.

What was it like to work with J.Crew on a collection of costume pieces?
It was very interesting as the turnaround time was very different. I had to let go of controlling every single aspect of the development because normally every prototype is done by hand in my atelier in the garment district. But it was a great experience.

Photography by Bryan Derballa.

Special thanks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

To shop Marc Alary’s collection of costume jewelry exclusively for J.Crew, click here.

What to Pack For: A Weekend in Upstate New York

when photographer Matt Hranek isn’t documenting his travels on his blog, The William Brown Project, he can be found at his house in upstate New York escaping for low-key weekends fishing and cooking with his family. here’s what’s always in his bag…
Last-minute packer or plan-ahead packer?
I always pack one day ahead for a trip (I hate the anxiety of not having what I need or being under-geared), but I’m less stressed when I’m just going to my house in the country.

Anything you won’t travel without?
I don’t travel without some camera (right now it’s the Sony RX100, an amazing point-and-shoot) or a sturdy tote.

Favorite travel companion?
My favorite travel companion is, without a doubt, my wife, Yolanda. We’re a great team and generally love the same things (she doesn’t fish or hunt but humors my pursuits).

How do you keep busy?
Activities upstate are pretty mellow and spontaneous. There is always some fishing, foraging and swimming. But the main activity is eating and drinking; we have great products in upstate New York to cook with and generally spend the whole day talking about what we’ll prepare for dinner.

Any local spots you could suggest to us?
The Catskills are one of the most magical spots in the Northeast—I just love driving there. One of my favorite places to go is the Alpine Wurst & Meat House not too far away in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. It’s like you just drove to Bavaria; they smoke and cure all their own meats, make the most amazing German sausages and have great old-school butchers on site. They also have a killer little German restaurant, which is terrific for lunch.

Where are you hoping to go next?
I am really lucky that my job takes me all over the place but I am really ready for an extensive trip to Japan. I need to tick that one off the list big time.
1. His own Orvis® tote
2. His own copy of The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pepin
3. His own Barbour® Bedale jacket
4. His own vintage pocket knife
5. J. Crew Nautical Stripe Sweater
6. J.Crew Chambray and Seersucker shirts
7. M. Nii® Waxer Swim Trunk
8. Quoddy® for J.Crew suede canoe moccasins
9. His own Sony Cybershot camera
10. Ludlow Suit Jacket in microstripe cotton
11. Bowery Slim Short in cotton twill
12. His own Il Bisconte notebook

To shop our entire men’s assortment, click here.

CFDA Fashion Awards: A Love Letter

through our partnership with the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, we have the opportunity to work with some pretty impressive up-and-coming talent. on Monday, the CFDA hosted its annual awards event—often dubbed the Oscars of fashion—that recognizes both heavy hitters and names you may not have heard of yet. here, Jenna gives us a cheat sheet to the night’s biggest winners.
Bethann Hardison with model Iman.
From left to right: Liya Kebede, Chanel Iman, Bethann Hardison, Iman and Joan Smalls.
Dao-Yi (left) and Max (right) with Jenna in a peekaboo tank and Jeffries tuxedo jacket, both Public School™ for J.Crew.
Maxwell Osborne and designer Wes Gordon.
Past CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund nominee Wes Gordon with the stunning Liya Kebede. Wes was nominated this year for the Swarovski award for womenswear.
Menswear designer Todd Snyder (left) with actor James Marsden (right).
Rihanna, who wore a leave-little-to-the-imagination custom dress by Adam Selman, took home the fashion icon award. When she accepted her award, she said, “Anna Wintour makes the rules and I break them.”
Fine jewelry designer Jennifer Fisher (left) with model Anja Rubik (right).
Fashion Calendar founder, Ruth Finley accepts her award.
CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund runner-up Marc Alary (left), who was nominated this year for the Swarovski award for accessory design with Vogue Fashion News Director Mark Holgate (right).
The designer and his partner, Seth Weissman.
A Jenna, Karen and Courtney sandwich.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen of The Row, who took home this year’s accessories designer of the year award.

Photography by

To learn more about this year’s collaboration with the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, click here.

On the Rise: Public School™

one of the best parts of being involved with the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund is getting to work with up-and-coming talent, since each spring, we collaborate with the winners on a capsule collection. this year, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne of Public School took the top prize—and last night they added the CFDA menswear designer of the year award (!!) to their growing list of wins.
Designers Dao-Yi (left) and Maxwell (right) of Public School. The model wears a Love PS boys tank and an Earliblaze vest vest, both Public School for J.Crew.

The pair launched Public School, a menswear line, back in 2008 and have been designing out of Manhattan’s garment district ever since. As the name suggests, both guys came up through the New York City public school system (Maxwell at P.S. 41 in Greenwich Village and Dao-Yi at P.S. 69 in Queens), and the city acts as a kind of unofficial muse for them.
This February, the guys shook things up and presented a small women’s collection for fall/winter 2014 that went down the runway along with their men’s designs. (Jenna especially loved a pair of slouchy pants they designed, above, that had faux silk boxer shorts popping out the top.) For the J.Crew collaboration, they also tackled womenswear, designing eight pieces, including a mesh peekaboo tank, the Jeffries tuxedo jacket and the PS sweatshirt.
The guys hit the streets near Midtown’s garment district; outside Maxwell’s alma mater, P.S. 41.

Photography by Bryan Derballa.

To shop the entire Public School for J.Crew collection, click here.

Zooming In: Life’s a Beach

in honor of the first weeks of summer, we chatted with Gray Malin, one of our favorite photographers, who captures sun-soaked beach life in Sydney. he gets many of his photos by hanging out of a helicopter—how’s that for some summer-adventure inspiration?
“I love the thrill of having the helicopter door open and feeling the wind whipping against my face, camera shaking. It’s a rush of energy when you see a moment and lean in to capture it while dangling 500 or more feet above your subject.”
“Of all the beaches I’ve shot in the world, Sydney is my favorite. Beautiful water, colorful sunbathers, white-sand beaches, crowds of swimmers, numerous surfers and a variety of beach landscapes—it’s my heaven!”
“This was a very cool moment that happened during my most recent flight over Sydney. A group of people were swimming quite far from the shore, so we began to hover while I zoomed in and studied the scene. Sure enough, there was a dolphin playing with the crowd.”
“I am a geometry whiz (though was awful at algebra) and, for me, the bird’s-eye perspective reduces everything to form, shape and repetition within the frame of my camera. Hexagonal beach umbrellas, rectangular loungers—it makes my mind race as though I am solving a geometric equation each time I compose an image.”

To see more of Gray Malin’s photographs, visit his website here.
To shop our summer collection, click here.

What to Pack for: A trip to Austin, Texas

this month in Discovered, we introduced Apiece Apart, a line of wearable basics by best friends Starr Hout and Laura Cramer. we asked them about the West Texas road trip that started it all, and found out what’s in Laura’s bag for her next trip down south.
Travel is clearly an inspiration for you. Tell us about the road trip that inspired the start of the line.
LAURA: In 2008, I had moved to Austin, Texas, from New York, and on the brink of our 30th birthdays, we decided we had to spend them together—Starr and I were born a day apart. We took a road trip with our boyfriends (our now husbands) to West Texas, about a six-hour drive from Austin. Along the way, we had a lot of time to talk, and inspired by the landscape, we came up with the concept of building a simplified and perfect wardrobe.

How does your design process work?
STARR: We have a wonderful way of working together. It’s true flow. We inspire and challenge each other during the process. I believe that the secret is in the combination of our ideas.

What’s your approach to packing nowadays?
LAURA: Starr only brings a carry-on. As soon as I had my daughter, I had to consider more items than were packable in a single bag.

How would you both describe your approach to getting dressed?
STARR: Wear, wash, repeat.
LAURA: I’ll go with that too!

Anything you won’t travel without?
LAURA: Herban Essentials® original essential oil towelettes and a warm shawl or wrap for the plane. A good book!
STARR: My newborn baby, Finn Julian Hout, born April 12, 2014.
1. J.Crew twist bandeau top and lowrider bottom, both in black
2. Point Sur vintage cropped jean in griffin wash
3. Postcard from Saint Cecilia (Laura’s favorite hotel in Austin)
4. Apiece Apart Roberta crop top
5. Her own Apiece Apart Camilla high-waist trouser
6. Jurlique® rose hand cream
7. Her own Apiece Apart Delfina ruffle dress
8. Her own copy of The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
9. Her own Illesteva sunglasses
10. Printed espadrilles
11. Herban Essentials® original essential oil towelettes

To shop our entire women’s assortment, including the line Apiece Apart, click here.

Out & About with Brian Siswojo
we spent a morning with Brian Siswojo, the owner of skate label 8Five2 who has been pushing skateboarding culture in Hong Kong since the ’90s. turns out, in addition to running a skate park with Vans® in Kowloon, Brian is also a fairly specific foodie, so we hit him up for recommendations on how to eat our way through Hong Kong…
Brian, photographed at 8Five2 Shop in Kwun Tong, Kowloon, wears a J.Crew sueded fleece sweatshirt in marled graphite.

Photography by Bryan Derballa.

To shop Brian’s fleece sweatshirt, click here. To learn more about what we’re up to in Hong Kong, click here.

Today we opened our first women’s Collection store at ifc mall and our first men’s store at On Lan Street, both in Hong Kong. For more details, click here.

‘Round-the-Clock Festivities in Hong Kong
everyone knows we love to throw a party, and last night’s openings for our two new stores in Hong Kong were no exception. at our women’s Collection store at ifc mall, we celebrated with a lion dance (a traditional Chinese dance used to commemorate important occasions). while over at our men’s shop on On Lan, we filled the street with confetti. here, a glimpse at some of the fun…

Photography by Luke Casey.

Tomorrow we open our first women’s Collection store at ifc mall and our first men’s store at On Lan Street in Hong Kong. For more details, click here.

© 2014 by J.Crew. All Images and materials are copyrighted by J.Crew unless otherwise noted.

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