There are always people watching Jenna Lyons.
Even in her innermost sanctum, an enormous bathroom that probably qualifies as a bathing suite, which is attached to an open-concept master bedroom that probably qualifies as a dressing wing, her bathtub sits beneath two enormous windows that look out (and in) on other loft-style windows, many of which do not belong to her. (She thinks the performance artist Joan Jonas, who lives upstairs, would be “fine” seeing her naked.) And on a marble shelf that probably qualifies as a bathtub mantle sits a strange Victorian gentleman whom Lyons does not know. “Some weird vintage portrait I bought,” she says, glowing. “I’m kind of into it.”
Several years after her conquest of American fashion as the creative director of J.Crew, Lyons is invading new territories: American homes and eyelids. The latter is through her collaboration with makeup artist Troi Ollivierre — LoveSeen false eyelashes — and the former through her HBO Max series, Stylish With Jenna Lyons.
Her particular point of view, which helped define American fashion in the late aughts, translates flawlessly into the language of interiors. In the Lyons den, each piece of furniture gives off the sense that it was either plucked from a distant flea market or entirely custom made. Everything else is a work of art. In the living room, the impish pink of a modular sofa and the somber greens of monstera leaves appear to be engaged in battle, until you realize they’re actually waltzing together, across an ancient rug, and in fact you love it — pink and green are your new favorite colors. Her bedroom is a temple to her philosophies of living color and offbeat merchandising, including a mythic shoe closet and a faraway toilet room, where a Japanese Toto toilet is guarded by walls plastered with mementos, handwritten notes, and Polaroid photos from a life lived in style.
On her approach to beauty: “It’s genuine, I guess. I’ve always been fascinated by the world of aesthetics and what people think of as beautiful and how that perception and perspective can really change. Growing up in California, there’s a perspective on beauty. People are primarily blonde or they dye their hair blonde. There’s a lot of plastic surgery, everyone’s worked out, going to and from the gym. It’s got a voice and a visual language to it. And I think one of the things that I liked about moving to New York is that I feel like there’s so much range in terms of what’s beautiful here. When I moved here, I had bleached blonde hair, I was really tan. I erased much of it.”
On skin care: “One of my cabinets is primarily filled with lotions and potions and elixirs and all of the creamy, slathery stuff I love. I don’t know what’s in the Biologique Recherche Creme Masque Vernix, but it might be the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’m obsessed with this Skin Creamery [Oil-Milk Cleanser]. I have this GloPro microneedling device. It looks like I took a nail file to my face when I use it, but I love it.”
On inviting cameras into her home: “It’s been interesting. It is far more invasive than I ever really understood and expected. I’ve learned a lot in this past year filming a show and understanding how intimate that experience is. Particularly when that in your home, in your bedroom, and there’s just people in your space. It’s really a strange feeling. I think if we did a season two, we would have to come up with a slightly different [plan] because, holy shit. Believe it or not, the most challenging thing [about filming at home] is people not recycling and throwing their food in my garbage. And I’m like, ‘I have a garbage disposal, please don’t do that.’”