Marissa Webb

Occupation: 
Head of Women's Design for J. Crew
Home: 
NYC; born in Korea (and adopted at the age of 4, along with her 3 biological siblings)

First thing she consumes in the a.m.: "I must  have my coffee!"

Personal style: "I have many sides to me...maybe it's the Gemini in me. I love mixing things up and experimenting with proportions and contrast. I'm always borrowing my fiance's shirts, sweaters, ties, even his watch at times. The 'boy/girl' mix is definitely something I gravitate towards. I also love to mix vintage with new, shine with rugged. But, at the same time, I love a simple chic dress; but I would probably pair it with crazy-heeled boots."

Wearing: J. Crew cashmere sweater and gloves, J. Crew Collection shearling sweater vest, Prada skirt, Fendi heels

When she knew she wanted to be a designer: "I remember flipping through my mother's fashion magazines as a young child in PA and thinking how glamorous it all looked. I loved to paint and draw, so I would pump out sketches of my own and ask my mom for her opinion. I didn't grow up thinking I would be a 'fashion designer.'  I always said I was going to be a race car  driver or a psychiatrist. I started college focusing on psychology and realized I didn't want to sit in an office all day.  I began taking illustration classes at FIT and, once I started my first internship with Daryl K, that's when I knew."

If she weren't a designer, what she'd be: "I love animals and can't stand to see the abuse that so many of them go through. I would definitely do something focusing on that but would also love to write and illustrate children's books."

Advice she’d give to anyone entering her field: "Work hard! Do whatever it takes to stand out from the others. Don't ever think it's a slam dunk. Learn something new everyday. When I first started in this industry, I would take any unpaid internship and was just thrilled to be there. I ate Ramen noodles everyday because I had no money. I remember once I had to pick up a bunch of garments for a show and it was pouring out. I was standing on the sidewalk with my arms stacked full, looking like a wet dog, when a taxi pulled up. I told him I had no money, but he took pity and offered me a free ride. I wish I could thank him for his kindness now. The simple message: It's not easy, but if you want it, you must work for it. Stay positive and take everything as a lesson for the future."

Inspiration: "I find life around me inspiring. It could be a smudge of worker's paint on the sidewalk or the texture of the crumbling side of a building.  It could be traveling or discovering a new artist or as simple as taking a  bike ride through the streets of NYC."

Designers she admires:  "Currently, I'm obsessed with Celine, Comme des Garcons with Junya Watanabe, Lanvin and the amazing Alber Elbaz. I'm also a huge admirer of Derek Lam and Dries Van Noten. I really liked the spring presentation from DSquared. Oh, and I can't forget 45rpm and Isabel Marant."

Wardrobe essentials: "Classics are a must to layer in with fun fashion--white shirts (I think I have over 20 of all different silhouettes), a favorite pair of jeans, black and navy blazers, great crewneck sweaters. And don't even get me started on accessories."

Her uniform: "If I want to be comfortable and don't have much time to think about it, I usually throw on a pair of slim cropped pants (in any fabrication from denim to wool to leather) with something oversized on top."

Her easy dress-up trick: Jewelry. "It looks like I put some thought into what I'm wearing."

Favorite item in her collection: "This is impossible to answer! It could be my army green trench from Comme des Garcons with Junya Watanabe or my Burberry Prorsum shearling lined sky-high boots or my J. Crew cashmere sweaters. I could go on and on."

Advice on dressing your best:
1) Don't be afraid to explore. People get into habits or won't try something new because they think it's not right for them. You'd be surprised what does work.
2) Personalize an item. Don't think you have to wear it exactly the way it looks off the rack. I often have the sleeves of my jackets shortened to a bracelet length just because I like that proportion on me, or have the legs of a pant taken in. 
3) Highlight what you like best about yourself. If you have great arms, show them off. Great ankles? Crop your pants to just the right spot.

What she'd never be caught dead wearing:  "One of those stuffed animal backpacks. I find them a bit disturbing, especially on women beyond a certain age."

Worth the splurge:  A great bag or shoes. "If you can't refurbish your wardrobe for a season, accessories are a great way to refresh your look. Especially if they're colorful."

Fave NY shops (besides J. Crew collection stores): Odin, A.P.C. and Bergdorfs for one-stop shopping

Cheap thrill: A pedicure

Signature scent: "I change them often, but the constant is that I prefer unisex or men's scents. Right now, I'm switching between Comme des Garcons White and Creed Irish Tweed."
 
Always in her bag: Boscia Green Tea Blotting Linens, a camera and her BlackBerry

How she stays fit:  "I really don't have time to work out right now, but I grew up playing hard-core sports and was a total tomboy.  I love trying out challenging, new activities and snowboarding; but currently, just running around the city with my 3 dogs keeps me fit. Not to mention the industry I'm in. It's unbelievable how physical the fashion business can be."

Go-to restaurant: Bond

Book that's bedside now: Strangeland by Tracey Emin

Dream  travel destination: "An African safari in the wild. It's been a dream of mine since I was very young."

How she's reducing her carbon footprint:  "I don't own a car--partly because I live in the city and don't really need one. And I also bike and walk a lot. We work hard on recycling in my home, as well."

Charities she supports: "I donate to as many charities like the ASPCA as I can and also support New Yorkers for Children. Charity has been something I've been thinking more about lately and plan on donating more time to it in the future. Guillaume and I have decided to help out at a dinner for the homeless. I would also love to do more with children--not just giving money but spending time with them. Being adopted myself, I can relate."

Photo by Bruno Gaget