The charismatic fashion icon gave Vulture Festival viewers a taste of her new competition reality series, “Stylish With Jenna Lyons.” Post-screening, Lyons virtually sat down with former The Cut Editor-in-Chief Stella Bugbee to discuss her behind-the-scenes inspiration for the show.
Jenna Lyons is most synonymous with fashion house J.Crew. Lyons’ effortless style while at the helm of the vintage-meets-prep brand catapulted her to cult fandom, solidifying her label of a fashion auteur. The former J.Crew president and creative director has been working on Stylish since 2018; the series finally premieres next month on HBO Max.
The eight-episode reality show boasts a blend of documentary and competition as Lyons, her chief-of-staff Kyle DeFord, and stylist Sarah Clary seek to find a new creative associate to join the team. “I’m not just creating a business, I’m creating a family,” Lyons says in the trailer. “No pressure!”
Vulture Festival attendees got a sneak peek of Stylish With Jenna Lyons this evening with a special pilot screening followed by a virtual moderated discussion with Lyons, DeFord, Clary, and former The Cut Editor-in-Chief Stella Bugbee.
The first episode features Lyons and her team renovating a friend’s Brooklyn townhouse, with aesthetic design tasks for two potential associates. An eccentric blend of fashion tips, interior design expertise, and some good old-fashioned competition, Stylish spotlights Lyons’ personal flair for perfection.
“Jenna Lyons is the single most detail-oriented person I’ve ever met,” chief of staff DeFord tells the camera.
Lyons also opens up onscreen about her love of fashion and mission to help people. “I was at J.Crew for 27 years, and when I left I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do next,” Lyons admits. “During my time off, I was helping friends with makeovers and I realized that I really enjoy helping people, and maybe there’s a business in that.”
Lyons was equally as comfortable offscreen as she was on. Following the episode, a robe-clad Lyons, DeFord, and Clary cuddled up on a bed to discuss the show with The Cut‘s Stella Bugbee. Lyons described Stylish as capturing “the edit” process, both in fashion and in life.
“We really set out to set a show that was about transformations,” Lyons stated. “It was really designed to be a little bit of a documentary-slash-reality…There is a reality that I’m kind of terrified for people to see, and then there’s another reality that’s really fun and cute.”
DeFord and Clary previously worked with Lyons at J.Crew before “hitching their wagons” to Lyon’s new company. The trio promised that fans will also see behind the curtain of their launch for false eyelash brand LoveSeen, plus everything from building a photo booth at the SAG-AFTRA Awards to designing a new office.
Lyons explained her process for finding a new associate. While the competition aspect of Stylish could easily veer into the clichéd mean-spirited fashionista stereotype, Lyons assured viewers that she promotes positive reenforcement. “You see that giving people really negative feedback and not giving them any direction of what they’re doing well doesn’t actually motivate them to do better. It actually takes them down,” Lyons said. “There’s an idea in the fashion industry that people are really…cold and kind of catty. That’s a very common thing you hear. It doesn’t have to be that way.”
The winner of Stylish was actually hired by their company, and stylist Clary calls the show a “dual process” for candidates to also test whether it was a good fit. Even Clary and DeFord felt challenged during the series.
Overall, Lyons promised Stylish will be unlike any other series yet. “There haven’t really been many shows that actually show real people who have had real jobs in the industry,” Lyons concluded. “We’re real people who have had real jobs, and we wanted to give people real advice and real practical things they can use. That was important to us.”
“Stylish With Jenna Lyons” premieres November 26th on HBO Max.