Is this the new Jenna Lyons? Gap's recently appointed creative director Rebekka Bay debuts brand's fashion-forward makeover
By Olivia Fleming
PUBLISHED: 17:49, 18 April 2013 | UPDATED: 17:49, 18 April 2013
It has been six months since Rebekka Bay, who made her name designing offbeat womenswear classics for COS, owned by H&M, took over as creative director for Gap.
And in the flailing fashion retailer's new fall 2013 lookbook, the 42-year-old's sophisticated influence is firmly felt.
While Ms Bay’s Gap designs won’t land in stores until spring 2014, the new sleek, pared-down, and expertly-layered looks show her creative direction finally singling Gap down to one vision - mirroring the aesthetic strategies of J. Crew's reigning fashion force, Jenna Lyons.
Battle of fast-fashion's power women: Gap's new creative director, Rebekka Bay (left), seems to be channeling J. Crew's Jenna Lyons' (right) clean and cohesive aesthetic as she begins the retail store's fashion revival
Gap, one of the great hot-to-not stories of American retailing, has been struggling in a stalemate revival for years. Part of the problem has been inconsistent design, where too many visions created unappealing fashion, and punished sales.
Ms Bay's predecessor, Gap's former creative director Patrick Robinson, who was fired in May 2011 after initially being hailed as Gap's 'saviour', came up against such problems.
A former Gap employee who worked with Mr Robinson told the New York Times: 'One season, executives were asked to focus on women’s career wear, only to be told the next season to get back to Gap’s core, denim.
New look Gap: In the previously flailing fashion retailer's latest fall 2013 lookbook, Ms Bay's sophisticated influence is firmly felt, with sleek silhouettes and pared-down looks
Jean genie: Boyfriend-style jeans are paired with a classic no-frills trench coat (left), while an all-denim look is broken up with peek-a-boo stripes (right)
'Then it’s, "Don’t focus on the denim business; focus on tops."'
It seemed Gap's merchants, who were ordering and adjusting the products, were ruining Mr Robinson's vision.
They ordered: chase Express’s trendy, club-ready market, but then go after Macy’s diverse designs. And most recently, it appears the retailer has been taking a cue from J.Crew’s book.
WhichGap's former CEO, and current J. Crew CEO, Mickey Drexler, might not be thrilled about, but it seems to be a move in the right direction.
Quirky cool: Ms Bay, 42, made her name designing offbeat womenswear classics for COS, owned by H&M, is now bringing that aesthetic to Gap
Well-cut classics: Gap, one of the great hot-to-not stories of American retailing, has been struggling in a stalemate revival for years, but that is set to change with Ms Bay at the helm
Ms Lyons, Mr Drexler's right hand woman, and J. Crew's creative director and president is, has become the face in front of, and behind the powerhouse that is J. Crew.
Nicknamed 'the woman who dresses America,' it is her own boy-meets-girl aesthetic that has shaped the company.
She recently explained to Fast Company: 'It's not that my vision is better. It's having one singular vision.
Pops of color: Ms Bay opted for a cohesive and neutral palette of blush pinks, navy, white and beige, while dotting the collection with bright oranges, or sometimes, a surprising stripe of shocking pink
Tailored over trendy: A denim jacket and denim shirt-dress (left), or white chinos and a camel jacket (right) might not be new, but an emphasis on fit and form takes classics to more modern heights
Styled to a tee: Ms Bay proves she has the vision to create sleek, pared-down, and expertly-layered looks for a recently doleful Gap - at affordable prices
'For me, it was like, "I really want to get my hands on that because I want it to look more cohesive, and it's driving me crazy." So I was asking for it.'
And the blond, blue-eyed Ms Bay, whose classic wardrobe staples are not unlike the favorites of Celine's Phoebe Philo, appears to be Gap's own answer for a new one-vision direction - affordable, stylish basics.
It seems Ms Lyons’ continual growing celebrity, and status as a fast-fashion style icon, might have some much needed competition, yet