Though Melissa Coker has the uncanny ability to fuse East Coast prep and West Coast chic into one Wren garment, her biggest source of inspiration comes not from L.A. (the city she now calls home) or NYC (where she once lived) but from Lake Forest, Illinois, where the girlish designer spent her formative years. “I grew up in this area where John Hughes filmed all of his movies—it’s an idyllic, Americana type place that totally influences anything that I’m working on,” she says.
But what motivated her to get this line going, years after she left the shores of Lake Michigan? During her time working in editorial, cutting her teeth at magazines like Vogue, W, and Details, she found herself looking for pieces she could never seem to score at stores, and a hunt for a short, full skirt—now a Wren signature—prompted her to start making the damn things herself in 2007, despite her lack of formal design training.
“Wren is named after Jenny Wren, a character in a Dickens novel called Our Mutual Friend. She’s a dressmaker for dolls and represents two sides of the same coin,” she says. “There’s a lot of that in what I do—it might be that a silhouette is really refined but something about the fabric feels distressed.” That approach is exactly what keeps a flirty skirt feeling exciting, season after season. —alisha prakash