Dropping by the store to catch a sneak peak at the new arrivals, I was greeted by my dear manager who hastily slipped a copy of the new March catalog into my eager hands. After rushing home to peruse the new goods not yet available in stores or online, I saw not only a mouthwatering selection of spring styles, but an ambitious photo shoot 'round the good ole US of A showcasing various American cities.
I was further beside myself with joy to discover the return of "the face that launched a thousand sweaters": the elegant, effervescent Spanish-born stunner Vanessa Lorenzo.
Now, we all have our favorite J.Crew models, as many have their favorite Victoria's Secret Angel (or the boys have their favorite Sports Illustrated swimsuit model). And while no doubt many smiling beauties have bewitched us into scooping up piece after piece of superb J.Crew creations, few models possess her instant likability and luminous charm that appears to radiate from within. She literally lights up each page like a ray of sunshine. She even manages to illuminate a black-and-white shot. (I also like that her nose is a little curvy and quirky like mine, rather than the perfectly chiseled, pert little noses that adorn so many models and actresses.)
I first glimpsed her buried deep in the pages of the August 2007 catalog, where she managed to glow and even frolic in the most staid of suits. She became a mega-hit and an instantly recognizable face of J.Crew after appearing in such successful J.Crew travel campaigns as Paris, Scotland, Rome, and Morocco. She singlehandedly made me want to wear canary yellow all year round, boldly patterned dresses with rubber wellies, and full skirts with open-toed shoes in the middle of winter.
And while this in no way maligns the distinguished efforts of other longstanding J.Crew legends -- including the ubiquitous Anouck Lepere and this as-of-yet nameless doe-eyed, deep-skinned beauty with the soft features pictured above to the left of Vanessa (after all these years, can someone please tell us her name?) -- there is a certain effervescence about Vanessa that stands out. A blissful joie de vivre mixed with unabashed femininity and topped with Grace Kelly's exquisite refinement.
J.Crew must have such strong faith in her ability to empty store shelves that they didn't even bother to airbrush the numerous lines and crows feet circling her eyes in last year's whirlwind "Roman Holiday" catalog. Fine by me, as I've always been a fan of older female models [a definite thumbs up to Lauren Hutton gracing the cover of last month's issue!].
Perhaps this is why J.Crew has heralded the triumphant return of a highly pivotal spring season with Vanessa's luminous demeanor splashed liberally throughout the March catalog? We can't be sure, but let's just say it can't hurt, particularly in a retail climate where nothing is guaranteed and where the most bankable investment is a dazzling bombshell with girl-next-door appeal and exuberance in spades.
Whatever the motivation, Viva Vanessa! Let's hope she remains a J.Crew fixture for seasons to come.
Now excuse me while I go swipe the new Jersey Ruffle Dress she's modeling before it flutters right off the racks...