In the bedroom, Jane wears a colorful Chloé sweater. Flowers from GRDN on Hoyt Street in her neighborhood. Jane found the painting off Avenue Daumesnil in Paris.
For obvious reasons, we are a very picky bunch when it comes to ladies whose style gives us the chills. As you well know, it’s never (ever!) just about a stellar wardrobe. There’s simply a whole lot of heart and soul—as well as a very fine eye—that ultimately gives personal style its unique allure. And the Gap’s Director of Concept, Jane Herman, really knows how it’s done…even if she doesn’t have to try too hard. Formerly a staff writer at Vogue, Herman definitely isn’t your average It Girl. In fact, it’s her contrarian nature—from Gap to Givenchy—and untrendy style choices that make her look and quiet vibe so compelling. And that most certainly extends to her Brooklyn apartment, too. Though she spends half her life on the road, gathering inspirational elements for Gap Creative Director Patrick Robinson to infuse into his collections, her home reveals lots of that “boy-meets-girl” style we love so much. Read on for a My Style chat with Jane as well as a mini tour of her charming urban escape…yes, we’re a little jealous, too!
Jane's bedside table is made from mirrored boxes, books, and a piece of old decking that she found on the sidewalk. She bought the painting in Stockholm when she went there doing a story on Acne for Vogue. The Gemini figurines––she and her fiancé are both Geminis––are from John Derian.
“Los Angeles, California.”
Now live in:
“Brooklyn, New York.”
In the kitchen, Jane wears a Marni top and jeweled collar, a Jeremy Laing pencil skirt, and YSL heels. A dinner menu––bacon-braised kale is a house specialty.
Describe your style in five words or less:
In the living room, Jane wears an Ann Demeulemeester shirt, Topshop pants, vintage sandals, and Jody Candrian cuff. The bookshelf was a Christmas present that her fiancé Justin built for her.
"Our mementos: Dried seaweed from Tulum, birch bark from the shores of Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire (where Justin and I spend our weekends in the summertime), driftwood from Cortes Island in British Columbia, a mercury glass vase from my mother, a Zeuthen vase from Copenhagen (a gift from Justin’s brother, Tim), an embroidered napkin from Zihuatanejo, Mexico (framed; a gift from Justin’s mother), tulips from GRDN, and the surfing monkey we adopted unexpectedly (also a gift from Justin’s mom)."
In the bedroom, Jane wears a Gap sweater and Gap 1969 Always Skinny jeans; Jane reads in the bedroom.
Last year, you moved from being a writer at Vogue to working with designer Patrick Robinson at the Gap...how has the switch affected your outlook on fashion and your own personal style?
“At Gap, I’m much more connected to the process of making clothes, which makes me keenly aware of the details. I’ve always appreciated fashion, and certainly at Vogue I learned how to really see clothes––the most exquisite clothes on the planet, at that. Now, working for Patrick I get to watch it all come together, from the concept to the store floor, with everything from the colors, to the fabrics, to sketches and the samples in between. It’s really given me a whole new appreciation for the work that all designers do. As for my personal style, I wouldn’t say it’s changed that much since I moved to Gap––I still wear mostly separates and flats. But I’ve definitely become pickier about what I buy. I’ll check the tag on a T-shirt for its fabric content, for example, and I’m stickler for properly finished seams.”
In the bedroom, Jane wears a Gap sweater and Gap 1969 Always Skinny jeans. The photographs in the background are self-portraits of Andy Warhol in drag, a gift from her mother.
Do you have any treasured items in your closet...can you tell us what they are and any stories about them?
“If I’m sentimental about anything, it’s shoes, specifically the ones I wore during distinct times in my life. There are the high-school Birkenstocks, the Marc Jacobs flats I had in college, the Dries van Noten boots I loved in my early twenties, the jewel-heeled Miu Mius that carried me through my second summer at Vogue…they’re all worn to bits, but I’ll never throw them out.”
On the street outside her apartment in Carroll Gardens, Jane wears vintage sunglasses, Valentino for Gap jacket, Maison Martin Margiela pants, and Sigerson Morrison shoes. She only wishes that was her car.
You travel all over the world now for your job...what's the best part?
“The wandering, definitely. Because I’m looking for things that are either innovative or beautiful or cool or just new, often the best thing to do is get a little lost. It’s something that I never let myself do back at home. There’s really no better way to see a city than by walking its streets and shopping its shops all day long (sometimes I’m on my feet for eight hours). It sounds cliché, but you never know when and from where inspiration will strike. Just yesterday in Copenhagen, I found the craziest flower shop. It was like a bazaar, with birds in cages and a very fat, green pheasant roaming free. I’m looking for spring/summer inspirations right now, so stumbling onto this one was great luck.”
Jane likes to pair her patterned Sigerson Morrison shoes with sparkly socks.
In the living room, Jane wears an Apiece Apart blazer, GapBody mesh tank, and Acne for Lanvin jeans. On the wall are photographs that her fiancé, Justin, took of their most awesome vacations. The surfing monkey showed up on their doorstep one day. Jane's mother-in-law-to-be was cleaning house and sent it to them unannounced. "She meant it to be a joke, but I’ve come to love the guy."
The kitchen chairs are Bertoia.
We know you and your fiancé love to cook and entertain at home...what's the secret to dressing for a dinner party? Any other dinner party secrets you can share?
“A fresh pedicure and loose-fitting pants are a must. I’m very casual when I entertain––my apartment and back garden are so informal, I sort of feel silly wearing anything but sandals when I’m home, and most of the time I’ll just go barefoot. I figure that if I’m comfortable then my guests will be, too. As for secrets, I’m a firm believer in cooking what you know when you’re throwing a dinner party.”
In the kitchen, Jane wears a Marni top and collar, a Jeremy Laing skirt, and YSL heels while attempting to juggle clementines.
What inspires your style these days?
“Minimalism and comfort. I want to wear clothes that reflect a balanced mix of what’s happening in fashion right now (hence the minimalism), and in my life right now (hence the comfort; working as I do, it’s best my clothes not be too fussy). Conveniently, these two things often go hand-in-hand.”
The bar is chaperoned by a portrait of former NYC mayor, Fiorello La Guardia. Jane found this home trick––turn an ugly radiator into a pretty tabletop––in Domino magazine (RIP).
What do you love most about living in Brooklyn?
“Three things. The open sky: There are no high-rise buildings in my neighborhood, which means shorter shadows and a lot more sun on the sidewalks. The food: At Caputo’s on Court Street you can buy fresh mozzarella from an Italian man who’s been making it by hand for nearly fifty years. ‘37 years in Brooklyn, 15 in the old country,’ he’ll tell you. And, lastly, Prospect Park: Its grass is always greenest to me.”
In the bedroom, Jane wears a Chloé sweater and Current/Elliot for Marni jeans. The rug is Madeline Weinrib. Jane made the decorative pillow behind her by sewing the embroidered placket of an old shirt onto a plain linen case.
You spent some time living on a remote farm, too...coming from such a hardcore fashion background, was the change of environment refreshing?
“To be fair, I only spent one week on the farm. But yes, it was totally refreshing, and one of the best experiences I’ve had to date. I laughed more than I had in months during that very short period of time (mostly at myself––the farmers who I stayed with had a terrific sense of humor, particularly about the fact that a fashion girl was traipsing around their organic homestead in ill-appropriate clothes weeding leek beds and chasing chickens for slaughter). The work was so physically challenging, and the dirt got everywhere (everywhere), but I loved it. Friends will confirm: I’m a nature girl at heart. Plus, I’d get to finish every day with a communal dinner made entirely from food that the farmers had grown, and that I’d helped to harvest. It was just delicious.”
"My dressing room is the only room in the house where I can decorate however I please. I keep it girlier on purpose."
“’Temptation” by New Order.’"
On her dresser rests an iron Buddha from India, and a Royal Copenhagen creamer from eBay. Jane in between the sliding doors that separate her bedroom from the living room.
On the Carroll Street bridge, which crosses the Gowanus Canal just down the street from her apartment, Jane wears a Valentino for Gap jacket and a YSL camera bag.
The bedroom furniture is a mix of Ikea (the bed and stool), Design Within Reach (the chair), and things that she and Justin have repurposed and/or rigged from scratch.
To see more of Dan McMahon's photography, go to www.mcmahonphotography.com.
Photography by Dan McCahon