Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Lena Dunham, Pakistani activist and filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Olympic gold medalists Missy Franklin and Gabby Douglas, Annie Leibovitz. These were just a few of the impressive names honored at last night’s Glamour Women of the Year awards. But the honoree we were most looking forward to seeing at Carnegie Hall was J.Crew President Jenna Lyons.
We’ve long been admirers of Lyons’ work at J.Crew, documented her well-deserved rise to the top, and noted her undeniable influence in the way we all get dressed. To put in another way, we’ve had a girl crush on Lyons for a long time (along with a lot of other people–a New York mag profile on Lyons points out that “Jenna Lyons girl crush” brings up half a million results).
2012 hasn’t been an easy for Lyons in the tabloids, what with her messy divorce and rumored new relationship with Courtney Crangi (jewellery designer Philip Crangi’s sister and business partner) splashed all over Page Six. Since then, she’s mostly shied from the limelight–her beloved “Jenna’s Picks” section in the J.Crew catalogue disappeared for a while–so we couldn’t wait to hear her accept her WOTY award.
First, there were some messages from her friends in rather high places: In an intro video, Anna Wintour said “J.Crew is a force to be reckoned with, and anyone who tells you otherwise is insane.” J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler added, “I think she is a woman of the year, every year.” And fellow honoree Lena Dunham quipped, “By the way, Jenna Lyons, you’re the reason I’m comfortable wearing shorts and it’s not going very well–so thanks a lot.”
But it was Lyons’s own retweet-worthy acceptance speech that had us actually tearing up. “You see a polished girl with a fancy title, but my start was not so fancy,” she said, recounting her start as an assistant to an assistant, working in a hallway without a proper desk. She spoke about wanting to make women feel special because she felt awkward and “ugly” growing up. “Nothing worth having is easy,” she said.
She went on to thank her son Beckett “for reminding me that the world revolves around him every day,” her “mentor” Drexler, and “Courtney, who has shown me new love,” publicly acknowledging her relationship with Crangi for the first time.