Meet…Chioma Nnadi, Fashion News Director

we spent a Friday afternoon playing hooky in Bed-Stuy with the finger-on-the-pulse editor.
Chioma, photographed at Saraghina in Brooklyn, wears her own sweater, J.Crew boyfriend jean in Ontario wash and Manolo Blahnik pumps.

Hometown & current home.
London, England. Brooklyn, New York.

How did you get your start as a fashion writer?
I actually got my start on the features desk at a magazine of a newspaper in London called the Evening Standard. It really helped me learn what it takes to make a good story. The fashion part came later.
Do you remember the first pair of denim that you really loved?
Yes, I remember saving up and buying my first pair of Levi’s. Growing up in London, the idea of American denim was really exotic. It took me ages to break them in, but I wore them into the ground. I wish I still had them now.

What person—dead, alive, fictional—wore denim best?
Jimi Hendrix, hands down. He did jeans with so much flair.

Best way to spend the day in your neighborhood?
I would start the day by getting lost in Prospect Park. Even though I’ve lived in Brooklyn for over 10 years, I’m still discovering new corners. Did you know there is a waterfall there? I didn’t. It’s magical. Then I’d head over to the Vintage Loft on Vanderbilt Ave. It’s by appointment only, and their selection of vintage clothing is really special. If I had time to kill before dinner, I might go by Circa Antiques on Atlantic Ave. I know nothing about antiques but love looking at them, and this store is chock-full of interesting furniture. I would end the day by getting a burger at Kaz An Nou. I used to live in the French Caribbean—and the owner is from Guadeloupe and cooks all his mother’s recipes. The burger is made with a rich marinade of island spices. I’m still trying to figure out what’s in his secret sauce.

So here we are at Saraghina, another favorite of yours—what’s your order?
The Coppa & Carciofi pizza is one of my favorites—I love anything with spicy roasted artichokes on top. Their burrata is flown in from Italy and you can taste the difference. I won’t leave before I’ve ordered the chocolate mousse.

Photography by Bryan Derballa. Makeup by Deanna Melluso for the Magnet Agency.

Special thanks to Saraghina.

To shop our newest assortment of J.Crew denim, including Chioma’s boyfriend jean in Ontario wash, click here.

Jenna’s (Artist) Pick: Wangechi Mutu

Jenna headed to the Brooklyn Museum to check out Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu’s exhibit. here’s closer look at what’s on display, but get there yourself before it closes on March 9…
Wangechi Mutu’s artwork from the mid-’90s to the present day has been brought together for this exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. Among the highlights are her large-scale collages, never-before-seen sketchbook drawings and her first animation, The End of eating Everything (2013), a collaboration with the hip-hop artist Santigold, who appears in the film.

It should be noted that Wangechi Mutu is especially close to our hearts right now because she has teamed up with the CFDA and Vogue to design two prints in support of a new campaign called BORNFREE, which is geared toward eliminating the transmission of HIV from mother to baby by 2015. Twenty-three designers (and mothers), including Jenna, are designing a limited-edition collection of women’s and children’s clothing and accessories, which will be available in May. All proceeds will go directly to sub-Saharan countries that need the funds first. Watch this space for more details leading up to the launch.

Wangechi Mutu’s A Fantastic Journey exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum runs through March 9.

we’ve got denim on the brain. with a new crop of J.Crew denim debuting this month, we asked a few friends to pick a favorite pair to take for a spin. here, Vogue Accessories Editor Selby Drummond slips into our selvedge toothpick jean.
What person—dead, alive or fictional—wore denim best?
Patti Smith.

Do you remember the first pair of denim that you really loved?
Absolutely. They were a pair of Marc Jacobs jeans, or maybe Marc by Marc—this was before I knew the difference between the two. All I knew was that I was buying jeans from a real designer. I took them home and immediately drew spider webs and creatures all over them with a fine pen. It sounds ridiculous, but I was very DIY back then. I think Marc would have endorsed the graffiti.

Photography by Bryan Derballa. Hair and makeup by Vensette.

Special thanks to UNTITLED.

To shop our newest assortment of J.Crew denim, click here.

Winner’s Circle

it’s that time again, and we’re sending a big congrats to this year’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner, Public School, and runners-up, Juan Carlos Obando and Marc Alary. here, we break down everything you need to know about the competition—including when to get the exclusive collections the winner and runners-up created for us…

Started in 2003 by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and Vogue magazine, it’s a design competition that helps up-and-coming talent develop their businesses. The designers are judged by a committee made up of industry leaders, including Anna Wintour, Diane von Furstenberg and our very own creative director, Jenna Lyons.

The winner and two runners-up are awarded $300,000 and $100,000 cash prizes, respectively, to empower them to pursue their design plans. They also have regular meetings with an assigned business mentor and are given the opportunity to work with Jenna and J.Crew’s design team on a capsule collection to be released in late spring. Plus, there are the (unlimited) bragging rights…

Collections by Public School, Juan Carlos Obando and Marc Alary for J.Crew will be available at on May 21st. Watch this space.

To learn more about our exclusive collaboration with the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, click here.

Studio Tour: Tabitha Simmons®

CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund runner-up Tabitha Simmons, the English-born shoe designer and stylist, invited us to her Chelsea studio to reveal an envy-inducing number of shoes and a little boy’s hat made of vintage Cracker Jack charms that was totally, well, charming.
Among shelves of coffee table books and an assortment of graciously pinned-up thank-you notes from designers like Jack and Lazaro of Proenza Schouler and Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour, it’s the sixteen or so racks holding 500 pairs of shoes that steal the show. “I think the DNA of my shoe is something that’s quite chic and whimsical. It always has that sort of slight British quip to it,” says Simmons.

The shoe manufacturing happens in Italy, but it’s here in Simmons’s office where the creative process of reviewing swatches and sketches begins. “I don’t really have a desk, I guess. I’m always sitting somewhere other than my desk or on the floor, cutting,” she says. “I’m never in one place.”

Most of Simmons’s office is a clean palette—big white sofas, freshly painted white walls, huge picture windows. Even the hundreds of shoes and clear bins stacked 20 high of styling accessories are concealed by a large curtain. Perhaps this is an effort to keep her working space somewhat neutral, since in addition to shoe design, Simmons is a stylist for Vogue and finds herself ping-ponging between Milan and Paris for shoots. “I try to keep styling and shoe design in two different heads,” she says. “I think the thing about having a background in design is that it just makes you very aware of the details and what’s around you. And from there you just get to work.”
Photography by Bryan Derballa.

Read more about the lead-up to the launch of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund collections here.

And to shop the exclusive Tabitha Simmons shoe collection and the rest of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund designs, click here.

Studio Tour: Jennifer Meyer

jewelry designer and CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund runner-up Jennifer Meyer Maguire graciously opened the doors of her Westside showroom, served us juice from Pressed Juicery and let us try on all her jewelry. (how could we resist?!)

“My friend Tessa Benson knows how in love I am with Dolly Parton,” says Meyer as she points to a portrait hanging near her desk of the country music star in Nashville taken by photographer Harry Benson. “This was a special gift.”

There are other good luck charms, like the quote from Star Wars “Do or do not. There is no try.” It was something her husband, actor Tobey Maguire, said to her while she was thinking of starting her jewelry business. Then there are drawings from her daughter, Ruby Sweetheart, some framed (the most recent one, hanging by the doorway, was a Christmas gift) and others mounted up on a giant inspiration wall next to photos of actresses like Emma Watson wearing Meyer’s designs. Some of her most treasured keepsakes and trinkets are tacked up onto a corkboard in individual resealable plastic bags. Eventually those charms or pieces will evolve
into one of her jewelry molds.

“When I started this business, it was just me on the floor of my living room printing out FedEx labels and putting the pieces of jewelry together. Now we have a showroom. I have a team of four girls and we keep growing. We’re even looking for a new space—I couldn’t do this without them.”

Photography by Bryan Derballa.

Read more about the lead-up to the launch of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund collections here.

And to shop the exclusive Jennifer Meyer jewelry collection and the rest of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund designs, click here.

It’s Party Time

on Tuesday night at Lafayette restaurant, Jenna co-hosted a dinner with Vogue fashion news director Mark Holgate to celebrate our launch of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund capsule collections.
Jenna chats with Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour.
Mark Holgate talks with our head of merchandising, Laura Willensky.
Bouquets of peonies lined the long tables in the subterranean dining
room at Lafayette.
A bespectacled crew: our head men’s designer, Frank Muytjens, The Elder Statesman’s Greg Chait and head women’s designer, Tom Mora.
Tom and jewelry designer Jennifer Meyer Maguire.
Jennifer admires actress Sunrise Ruffalo’s jewelry.
Shoe designer Tabitha Simmons and jewelry designer Philip Crangi.

Photography by Bryan Derballa.

To shop all the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund collections, click here.

Studio Tour: The Elder Statesman®

we dropped by the West Hollywood three-room bungalow of CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner Greg Chait of The Elder Statesman. it was (predictably) piled high with stacks of dreamy cashmere and equipped with a killer pair of Mission 770 speakers.
Tucked into a leafy private street in West Hollywood is Chait’s enviable setup: an atelier/showroom (a New Yorker’s dream) with oversize picture windows that look out onto a wildflower garden that the knitwear designer tends to himself. As for the piles of blankets stacked neatly on the floor? They’re all The Elder Statesman.

A look around Chait’s by-appointment-only studio reveals an exacting eye for detail and patina: a leather safari chair, stacks of old books artfully piled on the floor, records, frayed dhurrie rugs, an old loom from the 1800s that he picked up from a swap meet in LA. And then there are the knits—cardigans, Baja pullovers, ski caps, scarves—a handful of which in unexpected color pairings reflect the designer’s studied rebellion.

There’s cashmere he had dip-dyed by a Red Hook artist, cashmere bracelets made from excess yarn from his production process (woven by Eddie, a guy Chait met one day in downtown Los Angeles), assorted leather jackets (which, like many of the other items in his line, aren’t widely publicized but have been produced for years for private clients), a Navajo crochet bag made with local dyes, handmade buffalo horn glasses.

Chait’s also something of a spirits aficionado, so he’ll pour you a stiff drink. (The day we visited, he graciously poured us a glass of Midleton whiskey and put on Peter Sarstedt.)
Photography by Bryan Derballa.

Read more about the lead-up to the launch of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund collections here.

And to shop the exclusive The Elder Statesman collection and the rest of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund designs, click here.

Gatsby Fever

we admit, for months we’d been counting down the days leading up to the release of Baz Luhrmmann’s The Great Gatsby. in honor of the movie’s debut and our soon-to-be-released CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund capsule collections, we’re taking a look back at last fall’s Fashion Fund competition—a finalist challenge sponsored by Tiffany & Co. that fittingly asked the designers for their own take on Gatsby style…
Party photography by Hannah Thomson.

All other photography by Bryan Derballa.

Be one of the first to shop the limited-edition CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund collections on May 21st by signing up for our pre-sale here. Then explore more of our CFDA Vogue/Fashion Fund partnership here.

Sneak Peek: Show and Tell
as we get ready to launch our capsule collections with this year’s CFDA/Vogue
Fashion Fund winner and runners-up, we’re giving you a glimpse into their own
creative spaces and what inspires them most. (psst, there’s more to come in
the weeks ahead…)
Photography by Bryan Derballa

Check back here as we count down to our capsule launches on May 22nd for details
on how to pre-order the collections before they hit stores and online.

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

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