Watching runway shows at New York Fashion Week may feel like stepping into a utopia of high fashion and beautiful models, reading more as a form of art than as a presentation of upcoming design trends. That’s why J.Crew’s president and executive creative director placed some different faces on the runway for their fashion week show this year.
According to The Cut, the brand and its overarching tastemaker Jenna Lyons decided to hire “real, non-model people” to walk their forthcoming designs down the runway this year in an effort to think specifically about their customers.
“There’s so much going on in fashion, and I think one of the things that’s getting lost is the connection to people,” Lyons told The Cut of the decision. “And we keep talking about customers, but we’re not really talking to them, and it was a way to actually, I don’t know, talk to people.”
The Cut reports that Lyons and her team “made a list of 80 people, more than 90 percent of whom she knew through business or personal relationships; the rest were people she found randomly.” One such model: W Magazine writer Vanessa Lawrence, someone The Cut says Lyons met over the summer when she attended Giovanna Battaglia’s wedding.
The only other criterion for selecting the models was to ensure a diverse group, says The Cut, with Lyons revealing to the site that she didn’t want to be guided by a specific vision; instead, she was focusing on making sure her models felt beautiful.
“Someone said to me, ‘Who is your muse?,’” she told The Cut, “and I was, like, ‘I don’t know, someone who likes clothes.’ It’s not about one individual person, I want everyone to feel beautiful, I want everyone to feel connected to the brand. They don’t all have to wear it the same way, I’m totally cool with that, and I love that. That’s what makes me want to make clothes, is making people feel beautiful, it doesn’t matter what they look like.”
To ensure their comfort with their looks, The Cut says Lyons and her team let the models choose how to style the looks according to their own preferences and let them do their own hair and makeup as they’d style it every day.
The goal, according to Lyons: “This was not about us telling them how to look, this was us looking at them and saying, How do you feel beautiful?”