Who is Jenna Lyons, the Real Housewives of New York City’s first gay housewife?

The Real Housewives of New York City's gay season 14 star Jenna Lyons

Jenna Lyons is set to star in the newly rebooted The Real Housewives of New York City (RHONY) – but who is the gay business tycoon and star of season 14?

For the first time in Real Housewives history, one of its location-based shows has been entirely rebooted. That’s right, the entire cast of the 13th season of RHONY has been replaced with a group of six fierce women ready to herald a “new era” for the show.

According to an official press release, “six independent and successful women — Sai De Silva, Ubah Hassan, Erin Lichy, Jessel Taank, Brynn Whitfield and Jenna Lyons — are taking the city that never sleeps by storm.

“From looking for love to building business empires, they’re navigating the ups and downs of their friendships all while juggling families and careers, and looking fabulous while doing so.”

Slotting in alongside models, entrepreneurs, real estate agents and publicists for the 14th season of RHONY is the “woman who dresses America” – Jenna Lyons, the first out gay New York housewife.

Before the season premieres this Sunday (16 July), here’s everything you need to know about Jenna Lyons.

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Who is Jenna Lyons?

Jenna Lyons is a 55-year-old fashion designer, businesswoman, and television personality.

She was born Judith Lyons in Boston, Massachusetts, before moving to Palo Verde, California at the age of four with her family. As a child she suffered from incontinentia pigmenti, a genetic disorder which scarred her skin.

Lyons was bullied during her childhood, which led her to become introverted. It was during her youth that she took an interest in fashion, altering her school uniform and learning to sew in seventh grade.

Due to her passion and talent for fashion, she attended the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York City and graduated in 1990.

Why is Jenna Lyons famous?

Starting as an assistant designer for menswear at specialty retailer J.Crew at the age of 21, Lyons became the Vice President of Women’s Design by 2003.

After forming a close relationship with ex-CEO of the company Millard Drexler that same year, Lyons was partially responsible for helping the brand triple its revenue from just short of $690 million to just short of $2 billion in 2011.

Lyons went on to become the president and creative director of J.Crew, before leaving in 2017.

In a profile for The New York Times, Lyons was referred to as “The Woman Who Dresses America”. This title is in reference to the huge popularity resurgence that J.Crew saw under her guidance, including the brand’s status as First Lady fave when Barack Obama held office, with Michelle Obama wearing countless J.Crew items.

In September 2020, Lyons launched LoveSeen, an eyelash brand cheekily described as an “equal opportunity lash provider”. She is co-creator and CEO of the company.

When did Jenna Lyons come out as gay?

Jenna Lyons was outed in 2011 by the New York Post while going through a divorce with husband of nine years, the artist Vincent Mazeau.

Speaking to The Cut, Lyons later told the story of the publication contacting her at work to tell her they would be publishing a story about her relationship with Courtney Crangi.

She called the experience “traumatic” because she wasn’t even out to her friends or family at the time; in 2012, Lyons and Crangi went public with their relationship, before breaking up in 2017.

Lyons called being the first out gay housewife on RHONY as “a moment” when speaking to Jimmy Fallon.

As for the current state of her love life, we’ll have to wait to see what RHONY season 14 has to tell us…

Although Lyons is the first out gay housewife on RHONY, she’s not the first queer Real Housewife to appear on screen.

Braunwyn Windham, who starred in The Real Housewives of Orange County for two seasons, came out as a lesbian after leaving the show. Julia Lemigova appeared in The Real Housewives of Miami in 2021 and is married to tennis star Martina Navratilova.

Similarly, Meghan King of RHOC has said she’s “somewhere on the gay spectrum”.

Noella Bergener, who is bisexual, joined the cast of The Real Housewives of Orange County in 2021 for the 16th season of the show but left after one season and Kandi Buruss said that she was sexually attracted to both men and women while filming The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

Former Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Taylor Armstrong recently came out as bisexual after joining the extended cast of The Real Housewives of Orange County for its current 17th season.

Where can I watchThe Real Housewives of New York season 14?

Season 14 of The Real Housewives of New York “follows an all-new group of six dynamic women who run in the same social circles, thriving in one of the most diverse and electric cities in the world.”

Host Andy Cohen has previously teased the reboot as “a different show” than previous seasons.

The latest trailer shows bust ups, dinner parties, upper echelon socialising – and a lot of flirting with Jenna Lyons. We also see a discussion over her forced outing.

Season 14 of The Real Housewives of New York City premieres Sunday, 16 July at 9/8c on Bravo in the US and will be available to stream the next day, Monday, 17 July, on Peacock.

In the UK, the series is likely to air on Hayu or on Sky TV or NOW via the Peacock subscription.  

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