It’s not immediately obvious from her clothes—“no-nonsense sportswear,” as she puts it—but Lyn Devon is bucking a trend. She’s a young designer in New York, the city for emerging fashion talent, most of whom aspire to dress the cool downtown kids, the avant art crowd or the young social swans. But unlike her peers, Devon describes her clients as “women of means” between ages 35 and 65. In other words, grown-ups, the kind who prefer their clothes polished. Either way they’re an unlikely demographic to come knocking on a 23-year-old’s door, which is exactly what happened when she started designing five years ago.
“My customer base sort of grew naturally from my living room,” says Devon, 28, who, tall and thin with an auburn mane, wears her slim, high-waisted trousers and blouse very well. “I started to work at home, creating my own outfits and wearing them around. I would do the patternmaking, the draping, the cutting, the sewing. I did it all myself. My patternmaker now looks at my patterns and kind of chuckles. But my mother requested some pieces. My first client.”
Devon has since left her living room for a Broome Street basement studio. She remains under the radar but now boasts a tight list of tony stores such as Louis Boston and Jamie in Nashville, Tennessee. Considering her private client list, which includes Laurie Tisch, Kitty Kempner, Brooke Neidich, Vivian Mellon and Gigi Mortimer—women who are not necessarily famous on the party scene but are well-known among a certain circle of wealthy New Yorkers—Devon is definitely not underground. In fact her grassroots initiative began with uptown’s elite.
Devon grew up on the Upper East Side and attended Brearley, followed by Trinity, followed by Brown, all the while nursing a major fashion fixation inherited from her grandmother and namesake, “a true fashionista” and couture client. She passed away before Devon was born but left her closet and her daughter to carry the fashion torch, the latter in a more understated way. “She’s all about the perfect white shirt, the perfect tailored jacket, the perfect shoe,” Devon says of her mother, who once worked at Halston, albeit “in a lowly position.” “There’s a practicality,” she adds. “And that really influenced the way I imagined women dressing.” Thus her collection is full of smart, sporty, tailored pieces such as spring’s silk blazers, skinny pants and Claire McCardell–esque tennis dresses, all done with great attention to detail and color—navy, black and white shot with lilac, electric blue or yellow. “From the start it was never trendy,” Devon says. “It was always clean, streamlined, but with a level of confidence.”