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Elena Munoz: a creative career in Paris
03 April 2012 by Joyce Thornton
Innovative knitwear designer Elena Munoz - Texprint Knit Prize winner 2010 - is now employed as an assistant knitwear designer at legendary French fashion brand Givenchy. Elena had previously gained a prestigious seven-month internship as an assistant knit designer for Balenciaga - another iconic Parisian fashion label. We catch up with Elena to find out more about these exciting developments in her career.
Congratulations on your wonderful new job as assistant knit designer at Givenchy – how did this come about? I did an internship at Balenciaga, and when this was coming to an end a designer from the company put me in contact with a Parisian headhunter who then got me the interview at Givenchy.
Elena Munoz, design from 2010
How was the interview process? After the first interview with the director of human resources at Givenchy, I was then invited for a second interview a few weeks later with the manager of womenswear. My portfolio was then shown for approval to the artistic director. The entire process took about two months.
Where are you based - and can you tell us about the studio environment? The studio is based in Paris above the Givenchy store on Avenue George V. Every department has its own distinct space: haute couture and its atelier, menswear, womenswear and accessories are divided into separate floors.
You won the Texprint Knit Prize in 2010 – what did that mean to you? Through Texprint I gained a lot of confidence in my work and in myself when liaising with buyers and networking. I think this is the best experience and the best help a textile design graduate can be given when finishing his or her studies. I am really grateful to all of the Texprint team. The advice was invaluable - how to best present your work to the industry, how to develop skills - such as creating relationships with clients, and of course valuing and pricing your work. It was an incredible opportunity to be given a stand to show and sell my work at Première Vision in Paris, and in Hong Kong.
What was the highlight of the Texprint process for you? Being selected for Texprint was a fantastic continuation of my studies because it led me directly into the professional world. I really enjoyed the Hong Kong trip. It was also great to meet and to exchange ideas with the other five Texprint special prize winners.
What did you do after Texprint? I interned for one season at Céline’s knit and jersey department in London. I was then commissioned to create some catwalk knit pieces for Guy Laroche, based on a sample they purchased from me at Première Vision. Then I was offered the internship at Balenciaga and moved to Paris.
Elena Munoz, design from 2010
What inspired you to choose knitwear as a discipline initially? I chose knit as my specialty because of the possibilities for three-dimensional creation and experimentation that the medium allows. The process of working and creating with knitting machines has always felt very natural to me.
What have been the most significant moments in your career path so far? Being accepted into Central Saint Martins to study knitwear (after business studies in my native Madrid) was really a turning point for me. It made me strive to always push boundaries within my creative field. Moving to London from Spain was a great cultural experience and was a key factor for me in deciding to combine textiles with fashion. A further significant moment was being selected for Texprint - a great showcase to present my work internationally.
After London, it just felt natural to move to Paris in order to continue to develop my passion for knitwear. I have been given great opportunities to experience the expertise of some great Parisian design studios. Today I’m very happy to be part of such a prestigious fashion house.
What is your advice to new graduates? Develop your networking skills because you need them! Get in contact with agents or headhunters to help you to find a job, and try to gain as much experience as you can as an intern or by freelancing to build a strong portfolio. Never stop doing what you like most.
And to students embarking on a degree? Work hard and enjoy these years as much as you can. Remember that it’s only by pushing yourself that you get the most interesting outcomes.
What are your plans for the future? It’s difficult to project ahead to the future, but whatever I am doing - I hope to always apply the same passion and the same energy.
Exhibition Alert: British Design 1948-2012: Innovation in the Modern Age
30 March 2012 by Joyce Thornton
British Design 1948-2012: Innovation in the Modern Age is a major new exhibition which opens at the V&A Museum on March 31, 2012. As Britain once again hosts the Olympic Games in London, the exhibition looks at the radical changes in design since ‘The Austerity Games’ was staged in London in1948. Three galleries are dedicated to tracking the changing shifts in the design of buildings, objects, images and ideas over the last 60 years.
The items on display reveal how British designers responded to economic, political and cultural changes, and how, from the 1950s in particular, the younger generation challenged the ideas and values of their parents like never before. Moving from reconstruction to revolution the exhibition aims to showcase some of the best of the dynamic and ever-changing spirit of British creativity.
British Design 1948-2012: Innovation in the Modern Age
March 31 – August 12, 2012
Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL
Open 10am – 5.45pm daily, 10am – 10pm on Fridays
Adult ticket price £12
Exhibition Alert: Designing Women
27 March 2012 by Joyce Thornton
Designing Women is a new exhibition just opened at the Fashion and Textile Museum. Running until June 16, 2012, it celebrates the radical, fresh post-war style of three women artists at the forefront of international textile design in the 1950s and 1960s.
Lucienne Day; Traffic Lights textile by Jacqueline Groag; Jacqueline Groag
Over 100 works by Lucienne Day, Jacqueline Groag and Marian Mahler are featured in this must-see showcase. These modern designs were hugely influenced by the art world and with their bold, off-beat colour mixes and use of quirky abstract shapes, heralded a dramatic change in design for conventional furnishing fabrics for the home.
Lucienne Day: Olive Calyix
The exhibition is complemented by a series of displays including a series of photographic portraits from the University of Brighton’s archive and The Printed Square, a small exhibition of beautiful vintage handkerchiefs from the 1920s to the 1950s.
Designing Women : 6 March - 16 June 2012
Fashion and Textile Museum83, Bermondsey Street
London SE1 3XFinfo@ftmlondon.org
Open Tuesday to Saturday, 11am - 6pm
Last admissions 5.15pm
Closed Sunday and Monday
Ticket price: £7 / £5 for eligible concessions
Includes entry to FTM displays
New Horizons: Abigail Gardiner, Nancy Thompson and Rhiannon Williams
24 March 2012 by Joyce Thornton
Abigail Gardiner’s superb embroidered work has been much in demand since she exhibited with Texprint in 2011. Abigail has been working for Nicholas Oakwell Couture and the designer recently staged an exclusive catwalk show at Claridge’s hotel, London, just prior to Paris Fashion Week. Abigail designed the fantastic embellishment and beadwork for all of the pieces in the collection. She says; “The collection was very well received by clients and the fashion press and was featured on Vogue.com."
Abigail Gardiner for Nicholas Oakwell Couture
"I have absolutely loved this project - I have recently accepted a full-time job as textile and embellishment designer for Nicholas which is really exciting. I am currently working on ideas and sampling for the new collection. Being in the studio much more, I am now able to fully discuss ideas with other members of the team. I have also assisted with other aspects of the design process, such as costing and production management, which have really helped me to understand the business and the production process in the fashion industry”.
Talented weaver Nancy Thompson is employed by UK silk weaving specialist Vanners, which began with a six-month work placement. This arrangement has recently been extended, and Nancy is now working as a fabric designer for the Vanners open collection.
Nancy Thompson woven designs
She says: “I wouldn't have had the chance to do this job without my work placement so I'm really pleased. I've been doing lots of design and development work specifically for individual customers – working closely with the sales team, which I have really enjoyed, so everything’s going very well.”
Vanners, based in Sudbury, Suffolk, is renowned for top quality silk weaving and accessories manufacturing. With a history stretching back 250 years, the company holds a unique archive of over 250,000 designs. Its sumptuous range of silk fabrics is prepared, dyed and woven in-house using state-of-the-art dyeing, weaving and production methods. Vanners fabrics regularly appear in outfits worn by many high profile public figures. Adele wore a Barbara Tfank dress created from a Vanners silk brocade to the Sony Grammy party in February.
Rhiannon Williams's distinctive, witty pieces are building a steady fan base. Her work has been exhibited in According to McGee, a well known art gallery in York and Rhiannon sells some of her pieces through their on-line shop.
Rhiannon Williams; printed and embroidered pieces
In addition, she has just finished an internship with JRC Imports Ltd, a digital fashion print company. Rhiannon says: “This experience was really insightful. JRC Imports is a lovely, friendly company – they specialise in womenswear and their fabrics are used by many high street retailers. My role was to assist the design team with preparing their prints for the buyers, and to create mood boards and design commercial collections based on researched trends. I learned such a lot about print design and using Photoshop - so it was a positive experience. It has me really excited about digital techniques and opened my eyes to the fashion industry.” Rhiannon is currently in the process of applying to study for an MA.