Subscribe to Style Magazine

Derek Lam’s Plan B?


Friday evening isn’t a time you’d usually find students milling about their school auditorium—at least not of their own volition. But for a chat between Parsons dean of fashion Simon Collins, J.Crew’s Jenna Lyons, and Derek Lam, fashion design majors happily packed the house. The two Parsons alums met as freshman on the first day of school as the incoming class of 1990. “You were so chic the first day of school. I’ll never forget it, you were wearing this handmade leather jacket. It was so annoying!” Lyons said with a laugh. The leather jacket, Lam took the opportunity to inform her, was Comme des Garçons.

Lyons, who confessed that she was “not a very confident girl” growing up in L.A., found her own path in the big city. (She also got a taste of the wider world. “I never met a gay man until I moved to New York,” she revealed.) Lyons eventually landed an internship with Donna Karan on Seventh Avenue before finding her way to J.Crew. And Lam, also a West Coast transplant (he grew up in San Francisco), took off with a brief stint at Geoffrey Beene and then an extended tenure at Michael Kors. Though after 20 years, could another move be on the horizon? “I would love to go back to school,” Lam told us after the discussion. “I actually studied writing before I went to Parsons, so I’d go back for journalism. Maybe I’ll be a fashion writer!” Sounds good to us—send those pitches our way.

Photo: Marty Heitner/Courtesy of Parsons

Social Intelligence