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Behind the Scenes With Madewell's Head Designer

Meet Kin Ying Lee, our head designer. She's the one who tirelessly dreams up each season's focus and inspiration while somehow always keeping us fiercely grounded in our vintage workwear roots. Not to mention she always looks effortlessly cool at the office and, no matter how busy or stressful her days can be, never raises her charming British accent above a soft, whispery lilt. Oh yeah, she's also a mother of two adorable toddlers too. Here, what she's feeling for fall...

Q: What were you inspired by this season?

I envisioned an American girl enjoying the most perfect day in Paris, and being totally inspired by her surroundings. She's digging the cool, intuitive way French women dress--how they can just toss something on and look amazing--but she's also really loving what the guys are wearing as well: their dapper, tailored pieces. So one way I translated this aesthetic was into is our Midnight Blazer (pictured above), a sleek, super-slim-sleeved tux-style blazer made of a soft, stretchy felted wool. It's a very boy-meets-girl piece...that leans more towards the girl.

Q: What were you listening to, reading, and watching while you designed?

The usual suspects like Francoise Hardy and Serge Gainsbourg. I especially loved Serge's album Comic Strip --so poppy and hilarious and French. The Bernardo Bertolucci film The Dreamers spoke to me as well, since it's about an American living in Paris. Plus it was set in the late '60s, such a great era for fashion. I like the idea of the lead character having all of these totally French experiences while wearing all-American blue jeans. Lou Dillon also has great street style... she was definitely an inspiration.

Q: Can you give us a hint what you're into for spring?

Powdery, dusty washes and an overall softer denim palette with a vintage look and feel. I'm also excited for some new shapes in denim: styles that mix this season's slouchy boyfriend look with a more tailored mood. They're definitely innovative and fresh, yet totally Madewell.

For more on Kin and her design team--plus a peek at the fall collection--check out madewell1937.com.

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