Snapshots From Set: Bali

our stylists never put their iPhones down,
and we’ve got the pics to prove it…

This Week’s Discovery:

Mougin & Piquard for J.Crew
Of all the things to come out of Switzerland (alpine skiing, the Army knife, Gruyère cheese), our favorite is by far the expertly made watch. Meet Swiss brand Mougin & Piquard (it’s pronounced mooj-awe and peek-are), which might just be the greatest watchmaker you’ve never heard of. Started by two Frenchmen in the 1920s and shuttered a half century later, it was destined to stay a secret among collectors until watch authority Tourneau® acquired its archives. That’s where we came in…We worked closely with Tourneau to create the Grande Seconde watch, an original design based on sketches discovered in the Mougin & Piquard archives, as well as details from our design team’s own collections of antique watches. The result? A watch that we’re anything but neutral about.
A glimpse behind Mougin & Piquard. Clockwise from top left:
A snapshot of La Rotonde, a popular café in Paris’s Montparnasse that Ernest Mougin and Paul Piquard frequented (alongside expat artists and writers) before moving to Switzerland in 1926 to begin their watch business; One of Mougin & Piquard’s vintage 33mm men’s watches; The inner workings of a vintage timepiece.

This Week’s Discovery:

the lemlem Elsa shirt
We adore lemlem, a collection started by model and International Goodwill Ambassador Liya Kebede as a way for weavers in her home country of Ethiopia to escape poverty. (Fittingly, lemlem means “to bloom” in Amharic.) “Our hope is to add diversity to the fashion market while creating prosperity in another,” Kebede says of these traditionally handwoven creations. Her style point of view: “We take inspiration from iconic styles and reinvent them with a lemlem twist.” This top, for instance, was influenced by the classic Parisian Breton striped shirt and recreated by Ethiopian hands in gauzy cotton and with the brand’s signature pop of neon at the cuffs and hem. A true labor of love…
(clockwise from top)
A closer look at how the lemlem pieces are made: A worker unravels a spool of cotton thread to prepare for the weaving process; A woman sits at her wooden loom, carefully weaving the fibers together; The finished products—lightweight scarves—hang to dry after being hand washed.

(left)
A photo from our archives: lemlem founder Liya Kebede in 2009 with our crewcuts models wearing some designs made exclusively for us.

This Week’s Discovery:

DODOcase for J.Crew
Finally, something for bookworms and tech geeks alike. Our accessories designer, Addi, spotted these handmade covers on a trip to California and a partnership was born. Crafted in San Francisco using classic bookbinding techniques and eco-friendly materials—including durable Moroccan cloth plus an interior bamboo tray—these covers are the perfect mix of old and new (and we mean very new—they even fit the just-released iPad 3). To help them create custom book-alike covers just for us, our design team scoured neighborhood bookshops to find vintage tomes to send to DODOcase as inspiration. So whether you’re reading the Times or playing Angry Birds, this case will make you look (and feel) like the smartest person on the subway commute.
From handpicked books to hand-finished details, here’s a closer look at how those clever techies at DODOcase create their cool covers. Plus, don’t miss the video above, which shows exactly how everything comes together, from start to finish.

This Week’s Discovery:

the double-strand frog necklace
The animal kingdom has long dominated jewelry boxes—critter-studded baubles first grew popular in the 1890s as the Art Nouveau movement introduced fantastical dragonflies and serpents to vanities across Europe. In the next century, these retro gems reappeared on 1930s screen starlets in Hollywood. Fast-forward to spring 2012: Our designers resurrected this playful piece from our accessories vault with these vintage treasures in mind and updated it with a bright citron amphibian amulet and tortoise chain links. What’s old is most certainly new again.
Some of the inspiration behind our frog necklace (clockwise from top right):

Our designer’s eye-catching color palette (we’re partial to that yummy neon yellow).
Picturesque vintage jewels from the Jeu de Balle flea market in Brussels.
An Art Nouveau sketch from A. E. V. Lilley’s Studies in Plant Form & Design, published over
a century ago.
A treasure trove of period pieces.
One of our jewelry designer’s favorite muses from the 1930s: silent-film actress Esther Ralston,
dressed in true statement-making garb.

Behind the Scenes: J.Crew Collection

an exclusive peek at our most recent
Collection shoot, courtesy of one of
our superchic stylists
We took a brand-new approach with the film this time, shooting
each photo to resemble an old-fashioned Polaroid. Our prop
stylist complemented the vibe with midcentury pieces, which
I totally fell in love with. We also mixed in some still life shots
to beautifully balance our on-figure images.
See how our entire Collection lookbook turned out here.

(quote and photo courtesy of Emily Estadella)

Behind the Seams: How to Make a Prints Charming

we asked our in-house print master,
David, to walk us through how he makes
his perfectly pretty patterns
A print is born: The prints usually start out as actual drawings or paintings that vary in size from large canvases to tiny little laser-cut wood panels. We turn them into digital files, send them off and they return to us in the form of lovely fabric. We also design plenty of plaids and stripes, which are done completely on the computer, but the art-based prints are really intricate and fun.

Hands on: I always prefer working on physical objects, like paintings. I love bumping around in my studio, not having exact ideas as to how things will look, what mediums I’ll use, etc. The paint itself has a randomness that you can’t get on a computer, but there are some obvious advantages to working digitally; for example, it is way easier to create a repeated image on a computer than it is to paint it into an actual piece of artwork. And, of course, it’s always nice to have an undo button.
Keeping it simple: The more complex I make things, the more difficult they are to turn into a workable, printable pattern. The director of the textile design department is the best at doing the more complex digital side of this. There have certainly been times when I’m in my studio working and thinking to myself, “Man, he is going to hate me when I bring these paintings in.” It can be a pain but sometimes it’s the price you have to pay to make a great print!
An artist’s life: My background is as a painter and a fine artist, so I grew up painting a lot of vegetation and landscapes. When I paint for J.Crew, I’m usually inspired by the vintage fabrics they source, which are pretty amazing. I talk a lot with the designers, so I’m often inspired by what they are looking at as well, and then make new artwork based on those things. Honestly, inspiration is everywhere—I just have to keep my eyes open for it.

shop all our accessories

This Week’s Discovery:

Persol aviator sunglasses
Italian design at its finest. From James Bond to Thomas Crown, the long history of these iconic shades (introduced in 1917 to cater to pilots and sports drivers) includes some of the most stylish moments ever captured on-screen. Offscreen their appeal goes beyond their classic good looks. Persol, derived from per il sole or “for the sun,” is renowned for unrivaled quality. A patented Meflecto system for increased comfort and crystal lenses for clarity are two reasons our men’s design team loves them. Feeling really cool is an added bonus.
A couple of Hollywood’s most iconic actors, sporting the legendary look.

Shop this week’s discovery

(image credit: Steve Mcqueen, 2, Sean Connery.)

This Week’s Discovery:

Drakes London scarf
Drakes, the English company that’s been outfitting British gents in the finest handmade scarves since 1977, is now showing the ladies some love. Our accessories designer spotted a unique paisley print on a Drakes men’s pocket square and, declaring it a must-have motif for us dames, convinced them to create a scarf just for us. Fitting right in with the bright palette of our collection, this handmade, light-as-air cotton-and-silk extra is one we’ll be tying on all spring long (paired with something striped, knowing us).
Some cool inspiration behind our collaboration: Enter Cary Grant
(if anyone can make the scarf look totally handsome, it’s him) and a vintage Drake’s design.

Shop this week’s discovery

(image credit: left, right)

Well-Suited: The Ludlow Shop at 50 Hudson

our newest men’s shop and dedicated home
of the Ludlow suit is now open in NYC…
The sign of the times: our newest stand-alone suiting shop at 50 Hudson (and Thomas Street) in NYC’s trendy Tribeca neighborhood. (Who says suits have to be all buttoned-up?)
Divine inspiration: the mood board our visual design virtuosos used to tailor-make the old haberdashery feel of our new Ludlow Shop. What moved them? A mix of mid-century modern art, vintage industrial tools and nineteenth-century antiques (including an original 1950s George Nelson for Omni shelving unit).

Learn more about the Ludlow Shop at 50 Hudson

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

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