“Art is art. Fashion is fashion”, Karl Lagerfeld once said. But is that still true? MA Strategic Fashion Marketing graduate Julie-Sophie Jelinek explored this topic for LCF MA17. We talk to the Austrian graduate about her work, studying in London and blurring the boundaries between art and fashion.
Tell us about your Final Major Project?
I know this sounds boring compared to other projects, especially after I finished studying Photography in 2011 and published a book, but writing this final project felt like an emotional affair with my heart. I wanted to combine luxury fashion and applied art together in one project. As Karl Lagerfeld previously stated, Art is art. Fashion is fashion. However, after intense research some artists, designers and creative people intentionally blur the lines between art and fashion. There has been an on-going discussion for more than 70 years in both worlds – fashion and art – whether (luxury) fashion should be part of (applied) art. Italian Couturier Elsa Schiaparelli looked at dress design as an art form not a profession one of her quotes was “for myself, fashion is not craft but an art.” Other designers on the contrary draw a clear line between fashion and art.
My thesis was titled, ‘An Exploratory Study Of The Role Of Art In Creating Value For The Positioning Of European Luxury Brands”. It aimed to understand the lasting relationship between art and luxury fashion. And to furthermore investigate whether the cooperation between artists and the application of art as well as the realisation of experiential strategies focusing on fashion shows and retail spaces embedded in the whole strategic concept of a luxury fashion brand can result into a competitive advantage and subsequently can lead to a sustained value creation for luxury brands.
What did you create or produce?
I created a 250 page dissertation, including a theoretical and empirical part. In the first part, I was contextualising the evolving definitions and characteristics of luxury fashion branding, exploring experiential marketing concepts and definitions of art and how that applies to a luxury fashion context. The empirical part consisted of 26 semi-structured in-depth interviews speaking with luxury consumers and experts from the industry. It was important to have experts from major fashion capitals associated with the provenance of heritage luxury fashion brands, such as Paris, London, Milan and New York. Additionally, a multiple-case study approach was chosen to present the successful integration and implementation of art and cooperation with artists of two brands. The results of the exploratory study demonstrate that the usage of art can only be seen as a true benefit, leading to a unique added value in the long term, if ‘art’ is steadily implemented in the entire value chain system.
Where did you study prior to London College of Fashion?
A combination of creativity and economic thinking has been focus of my education. I moved to New York when I was 18, in 2008, to become a make-up artist, studying six months in Soho at the Make-up Designory Institute. After completing this course I knew I wanted to learn more about the fashion industry. Two years later I graduated with a diploma in Photography and Audio Visual Media in Vienna. Afterwards I studied economics before completing a Bachelor of Art in Media and Communication. I explored many different fields here, from advertising to media planning. I was able to gain the necessary economics and communication alongside my fashion experience. Fashion without economic thinking will not survive in the competitive and creative 21st century, where things move so quickly.
What would be your top three tips for prospective students?
Find your topics of interest in fashion – link, apply and make your passion relevant to the topics you are learning in your course. Read all sorts of different industry related papers and articles to consistently know what has been happening in the past, what is happening now and what might happen in the future. Business Of Fashion is source of information. LCF has a huge variety of sources and I personally really miss having access to online libraries. I personally loved reading and browsing WGSN and Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture and I already miss it a lot.
Attend as many talks as possible, inside LCF, inside UAL (check talks and events regularly on the UAL website) but there are all sorts of (mostly free) talks and events throughout London. I attended some great talks at other fashion universities, the Google campus, V&A etc. I think this is a great opportunity to learn first-hand how the UK industry runs and you get the chance to meet new people to broaden your horizon. Once working there won’t be as much freedom to join all these great meet-ups, conversations and talks. Also don’t forget to visit and attend all the fashion exhibitions and events happening in London.
Consider all the students around you as your potential working hub for the industry. LCF is so international – it’s the best opportunity you’ll have to connect with people. Think of all potential contacts at the forefront of their field, professors and people working already in the industry. Make connections, socialise offline and online and impress them all. What better place and time for this than London?
Why did you choose LCF and MA Strategic Fashion Marketing?
I researched a lot of different MA Fashion Marketing programmes across the fashion capitals of Europe. I wanted to study at a well-recognised university which has a good reputation worldwide.
What did you enjoy most about the course, and what did you find most challenging?
The international diversity within our relatively big class gave us the opportunity to see and adapt different views, approaches and experiences – this was a great advantage. The open access to fashion shows, exhibitions, events and talks was another great feature of LCF’s FashionBusiness School. However, one great defiance of being so international was that it often felt that within the class different levels of knowledge in various areas existed, which were sometimes hard to balance out in class and during team projects. Many different, often interesting but also challenging perspectives, inputs and approaches were constantly explored. You could either decide to adapt, participate or react. This together with the loose structure of seminars and lectures was a great test for me.
What is your favourite thing about studying in London?
Oh wow, what a question! London is London what more can I say? Coming from Vienna, London has so much more for interesting stuff to offer young people. I loved being surrounded in a city full of inspiration and a melting pot for cultures. It’s great to immerse yourself in the legacy of this city, which at the same time it’s so edgy, trendy, crazy and unique. You can go and enjoy a traditional afternoon tea at Claridge’s, then shopping later at a local Vintage Kilo Sale in Brixton, buying a 1 kilo bag of clothes for less than £15. This city has such a variety to offer and you can always learn something new in literally every moment.
Describe your work in five words…
Focused, critical, strategic, eager and creative.
Who is your biggest inspiration or muse?
I don’t think I have a real muse because I’m working in a marketing and business related environment. However, I admire great personalities from various fields in the industry – designers, fashion historians, curators, journalists, actors, models, artists – such as Vivienne Westwood, Raf Simons, Alexander McQueen, Valerie Steele, Judith Clark, Olivier Saillard, Tilda Swinton, Suzy Menkes, Richard Avedon, Marcel Duchamp for example, have been in the past and will be in the future a major source of inspiration and interest to me. If it comes to characters and books then I’d have to say Alice from Alice in the Wonderland. To say it in the words of Lewis Carroll, “Have I gone mad? I’m afraid so, but let me tell you something, the best people usually are”.
What are your future plans and how do you think the course has helped you realise this?
I hope I’m able to continue researching my topics of interest in the future – this could be through academics as well as working in the fashion industry. My future aim is to challenge, promote, push and implement my gained skills and knowledge in the (luxury) fashion industry to become part of this fascinating world. I want to become a change-maker!
LCF moving to Stratford: What do you think about the university moving east?
On one hand studying at the John Prince’s Street and High Holborn campuses was great as it’s super central and Stratford might not be as convenient for travel. However, I think the new location together on one campus, like CSM already is, will be a great advantage for all students. I think it could be a great opportunity to meet and socialise with even more different people and different students from different areas within the industry. This part of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will be a great hub and a major melting point for culture and education.
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