Only at a J.Crew presentation could a couple of pairs of gray pants be more eyebrow-raising than a blazer entirely covered with sparkles. In the queendom of Jenna Lyons, sparkles are mandatory. But it’s far more unusual to see J.Crew pushing a dramatic silhouette proposition, as the brand did today with its super-voluminous wool trousers, which attained a gownlike proportion. As womenswear designer Tom Mora explained, those trousers were a tip of the hat to high fashion in the ’70s, the elegance of which often goes unremembered amid nostalgia for the decade’s kitsch.
But that elegance is all over the pages of Peter Schlesinger’s classic book, Checkered Past, which documents the look of David Hockney, Paloma Picasso, and Tina Chow, as well as other notables living in London at the time. Paging through Schlesinger’s tome, Mora noticed the elegance, and he noticed the vivid colors. And alongside the aforementioned trousers, it was the colors in this latest J.Crew collection that really jumped out at you today: the punchy yellow of a shearling parka liner; the pop of a pale pink turtleneck sweater worn with a purple A-line skirt in a sophisticated silk/wool blend; the shock of an electric blue blazer paired with two-tone green cargo pants.
As per usual, there were other nice details here, like the luxe double-faced wool on a camel gilet, or the contrast color that shimmered from the back side of the fringe on a blush-toned suede skirt, or a sweatshirt-style top’s clever mix of ribbed knit and wool flannel. And as per usual as well, there was plenty of showier stuff playing counterpoint to the signature J.Crew preppy standards. That sparkly beading, for instance, and the bright gold chain mail dangling from a skirt. You expect a canny eclecticism from J.Crew at this point, and so as effective and appealing as all that was, it didn’t make a lasting impression. Those wide-leg trousers, though, pointed toward something new—a different kind of ambition. There were hints, as there were last season, that J. Crew—which is looking to recover from disappointing sales last year—is hoping that an elevation in tone will boost performance. The recipe seems to be: more sophistication, fewer sparkles.