The effortlessly cool, confident 44-year-old at the helm of J.Crew, Jenna Lyons’ celebrity is beginning to rival that of the fashion retailer itself. Born in Boston but raised in California, Lyons took an interest in sketching and drawing as a child, which led her to Parsons School of Design and then an assistant’s job at J.Crew, where she continues to work more than 20 years later as the company’s president. Lyons also wields power as an influential stylesetter via her personal aesthetic of mixing menswear and feminine pieces into a smart-chic look. Here are seven things you should know about the TIME 100 honoree:
- She is six feet tall.
But the statuesque beauty doesn’t always feel like the fashion darling that she is. “I know what it’s like to not feel beautiful,” she told her audience at Glamour’s Women of the Year Awards in November 2012.
- And she wears false teeth.
A childhood diagnosis of incontinentia pigmenti, a genetic disorder that produces skin lesions and hair loss, also left Lyons with malformed teeth. Today she owes her pearly white smile to the magic of dentures, a fact she has been refreshingly candid about.
- After being married for nine years, she’s now in a relationship with a woman.
Lyons got together with Courtney Crangi, business partner and sister of jewelry designer Philip Crangi, after her 2011 divorce from artist Vincent Mazeau. Tabloids hounded her mercilessly during this period, and it wasn’t until late 2012 that she publicly acknowledged her relationship with Crangi. Looking relaxed and happy, last month the two posed for a joint photo shoot in V Magazine.
- She’s happy about J. Crew’s celebrity fans (hello, Michelle Obama!) but refuses to be a slave to them.
Two weeks before the 2012 Oscars, Lyons and her team received a request to dress a star for the awards show’s red carpet. The pragmatic Lyons turned them down, telling ABC News, “We can’t turn samples and make really good-quality clothes on such a tight timeline. I certainly love the idea, but we’re not set up that way.”
- She encourages her son to be creative, even when it comes to toenail polish.
Lyons set off a firestorm when the spring 2011 J. Crew catalog showed her painting her 6-year-old son Beckett’s toes hot pink, with text that read, “Lucky for me I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.” Fox News and other conservative outlets attacked the image for promoting gender confusion, while J. Crew wisely refused to comment. It does seem that Beckett has inherited his mom’s sense of style: “He has a preference for cashmere,” Lyons told Harper’s Bazaar.
- Her closet is stocked with nearly 300 pairs of shoes.
289, she estimates in this video clip, not all of which she has worn. Closet envy, anyone?
- She loves the snooze button.
“It’s really a drug,” she admitted to Bazaar. If we had a day that consisted of over 200 emails, 100 texts, and a dozen meetings, we’d want to squeeze in some extra sleep too.