Fletcher broke through the style glut after nabbing an Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation award last year, which gave her the funds for that “terrifying”—though well-received—show at the National Arts Club. Now, on a recent afternoon, a pack of studiously chic women (and one slightly bewildered, gift list–clutching man) riffle through the racks of Fletcher’s boutique, also called Lyell, which is her mother’s maiden name. When it’s suggested that the award and the crowded store are indications that, well, the jig is up, Fletcher winces. She’s not ungrateful—quite the opposite, in fact—but she is anxious about the brutal economic climate. Mayle, for instance, is shuttering her shop and collection this spring. And to a certain extent Fletcher has simply been lucky: In a sea of stores clamoring to get noticed, Williams just happened to stroll into hers, setting off a consistent stream of buyers.
Supported by a loyal following, Fletcher’s designs have drawn the attention of boutiques including Confederacy in L.A. and By George in Austin, Texas, both of which now also stock Lyell. To accommodate that growth, Fletcher’s boyfriend, Mike Kresse, a former carpenter with a head for numbers, has taken over the business side. “I’d like to open another store, but I’d also like to go against the system a little bit with the schedule,” she says, referring to the seemingly endless loop of collections that designers have been putting forth lately. Fletcher envisions producing 10 different pieces every other month, “a continual line that evolves,” rather than one divided strictly into seasons. That way she can bounce between her cherished piled layers and wispier, skimpier pieces as the mood strikes. “It’s like I swing from a granny to a 15-year-old,” she says, laughing. Perhaps, but there’s plenty of fare for the ladies in between.