Jenna Lyons on Being Outed (and Her Fake Teeth)

Jenna Lyons, former head designer and president of J. Crew, may be a style icon, but, even over a decade later, being outed before she was ready to share her sexuality still smarts.

In an interview Wednesday on The View, Lyons recalled being publicly outed, in the midst of her 2011 divorce from Vincent Mazeau. When an outlet called and asked for confirmation of whether she was gay, she said, “I was so overwhelmed with everything that was happening in my life that I just said yes.”

She called being asked by the New York Post to confirm or deny whether she was a lesbian “an out-of-body experience.”

“I didn’t expect anyone to care about what I was doing in my personal life, and all of a sudden everyone cared,” she said, recalling that the story was made public because “someone called the Post and said it looked like I was having an intimate dinner with someone at a restaurant.”

“I don’t know why,” she said, “but I just said ‘confirm.’”

The next day, she hit the newsstands of New York and scooped up all the copies of the Post she could find. “For the record, I went and bought almost every single one in Manhattan,” she said.

Though the circumstances surrounding her outing still sting, Lyons said that she’s proud to be a positive representation of queer people in the world and recalled how younger employees at J. Crew would tell her, “My mom is so relieved to see someone successful who’s openly gay.” Now, too, she’s the first openly gay cast member on The Real Housewives of New York.

During the appearance, she also opened up about a genetic disorder she was born with, incontinentia pigmenti, that visibly impacts a person’s skin, hair, teeth, and more.

“All my teeth are fake,” she said, laughing at a compliment and responding that “I paid a lot of money for them.”

“My hair is also fake, I can take it off, it’s like a hat,” she said. “My eyelashes are fake, I have no eyebrows, I also have scars all over my skin.”

Her condition has inspired her: When she couldn’t find fake eyelashes that she felt suited her, she made her own and created her company, LoveSeen. Coping with her health is also part of the origin story for her ongoing, epic life in fashion.

“It’s one of the reasons I went into fashion,” she said, “because I wanted to look better. I was constantly trying to find ways to fit in.”

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