Welcome to Into Labels, a Who What Wear column that profiles the designers behind the brands we can’t stop talking about.
“Considering the fact I grew up stalking Nicole and begging my mom to buy me Juicy Couture, this is a dream come true.”
This is how Jamie Mizrahi began her acceptance speech last weekend as she received the Design Debut Award from Daily Front Row. The Nicole she’s referring to is Richie—a fact one can assume if they know either anything at all about Juicy Couture or anything at all about Mizrahi. The two are close friends, yes, but in a full-circle moment even rarer than becoming pals with your childhood icon, Mizrahi was also named the creative director of Juicy Couture nearly a year ago. And before she took to the stage to celebrate on Sunday night, we spoke with her on the phone.
“It is definitely hard to work on a brand that you didn’t start and that you didn’t create from the beginning,” Mizrahi admits of the challenges of now creatively leading one of the most recognized brands of the ’00s. Most designer shuffles in fashion often allow for one high-profile name to step in when another leaves their post, but that wasn’t the case here. Juicy Couture, a brand that precedes pretty much all forms of social media, was last making major headlines when it shuttered all its stores in 2014, lightly resurfacing over the last couple years with a Vetements collaboration and the tracksuit’s 21st birthday celebration. But Mizrahi’s arrival marked a new beginning—one where she brings tons of different, yet relevant, experience.
Before August 2017, Mizrahi was known primarily for her work behind the scenes, namely styling for megastars like Richie, Katy Perry, Riley Keough, Suki Waterhouse, and Kate Upton. “I find that styling has played a really integral part in my creative directing job, and my creative directing job has played a really integral part in my styling job,” she says. “They luckily work together more than I anticipated they would.”
Although her career thus far has prepared her—and she’s certainly no stranger to collaborating with daring and expressive women—she says there’s another key reason she’s built for this: “I was the Juicy customer from the beginning. I understand the brand.” And her first few collections (and resulting recognition) speak to that.
While Mizrahi says her approach to creating is generously steeped in nostalgia—“I look through the archives, and it brings up so many memories for me, like Oh, I wore that in my middle school yearbook photo or Oh, I remember that T-shirt; I wore that every day in sixth grade—but her pieces toe the line between what her fellow OG Juicy superfans love and an awareness that a lot has changed since her adolescence.
In the latest Juicy collection—presented on a New York Fashion Week runway for the brand’s first time—Mizrahi mixed references from the ’70s and ’80s, all while maintaining a lineup of ’00s tracksuits that completed the collection. “Sequins, florals, and faux fur all still feel feminine and very Juicy while feeling fresh, new for the brand, and relevant to what’s happening today,” she says of the F/W 18 line. “Juicy is about being feminine, girly, overall fun … and not taking itself too seriously.”
As for what’s next for the brand, Mizrahi says she’s very much enjoying the now. The stylist turned creative director will soon go into her second year in this position and plans to continue revisiting archived pieces that are ripe for a comeback. Her task? Reimagining how she—and surely her most stylish clients—might want to wear them in 2018.
“Juicy is so iconic and has such a history that it would be foolish to ignore that,” she says of the cult-followed label. “I also realize it’s important to not rely solely on this nostalgia, and infuse the brand with new, different product that feels modern today. My vision is to constantly evolve while staying true to who we are at our roots—we know what people know us for, and we always want to offer that, but in an updated, exciting, never-before-seen way each season.”