J.Crew’s Somsack Sikhounmuong on Casting Real People and Going Very Old School

J.Crew’s New York Fashion Week show was full of classic preppy looks — think rugby and tweed — with bright swaths of color in satin and camouflage. We caught up with womenswear designer Somsack Sikhounmuong for a quick chat backstage about this season’s models, which included Sandra Bernhard, an actor from Fun Home, and one of the stylist’s moms, as well as the themes and inspirations for New York Fashion Week 2017.

Finding real people to model for the show wasn’t especially difficult; according to Sikhounmuong, they simply used the same casting process as last season. “It was just finding friends of the brand, fans of the brand, people whose style we love,” he said, adding, “It didn’t matter what size you were or what age you were or what background you were.” The important part was keeping the line approachable. Although the pieces were styled in a specific way for the show, it’s totally possible to style them separately however you want.

The theme for this season was very old-school mixed with a splash of new, with throwbacks to classic J.Crew styles like “tweeds and tartans,” as well as the favorite roll-neck sweater and striped shirts. One particularly old-school inspiration was Queen Elizabeth II, from her hunting jackets to Scottish kilts. “There’s one picture of her in this big, beautiful silver ball gown dancing with Prince Philip in a kilt,” Sikhounmuong enthused, noting that the new-school aspect of the line is comprised of the camouflage patterns, bright colors, and satiny fabrics.

J.Crew’s Somsack Sikhounmuong on Casting Real People