¡Hola Coca!

Now that Johnny Coca’s head­ing up the de­sign at Mul­berry, we know where to look for the next block­buster bag.

L'officiel Singapore - - Contents - BY GOR­DON NG

The de­signer Johnny Coca (Span­ish) wears a per­sonal uni­form of a kilt (Scot­tish), hoop ear­rings (in­de­ter­mi­nate prove­nance, but very en­dear­ing), and is now the cre­ative direc­tor for Mul­berry (English). Af­ter a two-year hia­tus with­out di­rec­tion and much head­way, Mul­berry has brought on new blood – proof of post-moder­nity’s dis­re­gard for na­tional bound­aries – and Coca’s new vi­sion for the English brand is re­vi­tal­is­ing, en­er­gis­ing and ex­cit­ing to wit­ness as it un­folds. The FW16 sea­son saw Coca present his de­but col­lec­tion on the London Fash­ion Week cat­walk, com­plete with ready-to-wear, ac­ces­sories and, of course, the sea­son’s new­est bags.

How did you get into fash­ion de­sign?

“I think it all be­gan when I had a job in vis­ual de­sign while I was at the École Boulle art school. I had to sketch bags for the win­dows and I de­cided to show my de­signs to Yves Car­celle at Louis Vuit­ton. I grad­u­ally worked my way up. I love to draw and this led to me get­ting more work. I then started to de­sign for more and more prod­uct cat­e­gories: first at Cé­line with Michael Kors, then at Bally, and then back at Cé­line again with Phoebe Philo – and now at Mul­berry where I am de­sign­ing the ready-to-wear as well as ac­ces­sories, shoes, jew­ellery and travel items.”

How does your ed­u­ca­tion in ar­chi­tec­ture and physics in­spire your work?

“My ed­u­ca­tion in ar­chi­tec­ture meant that choos­ing the show venue was a very im­por­tant part of show­cas­ing the col­lec­tion. The Guild­hall – where we showed – was the per­fect venue as it re­ally demon­strated the jux­ta­po­si­tion be­tween the old and con­tem­po­rary, which is very much what the col­lec­tion was about – con­trast.”

As the ac­ces­sories de­signer be­hind some of Cé­line’s great­est hits, what do you think makes for a suc­cess­ful bag?

“De­sign­ing a bag is like build­ing a house – it must be modern, prac­ti­cal, func­tional and ac­ces­si­ble.”

What’s the start­ing point in your de­sign process?

“It all starts with a con­cept and then ev­ery­thing stems from there. It’s like a tree – lots of branches with lots of dif­fer­ent things cre­ate the whole pic­ture.”

Clas­sic English de­tails are at play in the re­sus­ci­ta­tion of Mul­berry. Press studs, wellie-soled booties, and an at­ten­tion to a crisp sil­hou­ette make up Coca’s com­ing vi­sion.

“I am a cre­ative first and fore­most, so ev­ery­thing I do, I do for the col­lec­tions. I want the de­signs to be able to speak for them­selves.”

Speak­ing of trees, you’ve scrapped Mul­berry’s iconic wil­low for an archival lo­go­type. What was the rea­son for look­ing back in­stead of cre­at­ing some­thing new from scratch?

“It’s im­por­tant as a cre­ative direc­tor to know the her­itage and his­tory of the brand. The new logo is an ex­am­ple of this as it’s ac­tu­ally an old Mul­berry logo from the 1970s. I found it when I was re­search­ing and go­ing through the ar­chives. I felt it could rep­re­sent the brand in such a modern way while also res­ur­rect­ing some of Mul­berry’s his­tory.”

What were your in­ten­tions with your de­but at Mul­berry?

“To cre­ate a modern and ac­ces­si­ble col­lec­tion.”

How did you feel af­ter your first show as a cre­ative direc­tor?

“I was full of ev­ery emo­tion pos­si­ble – hap­pi­ness, re­lief, fear… The show was a defin­ing mo­ment for Mul­berry and for my ca­reer too.”

Were you in­tim­i­dated by the pres­sure of be­com­ing the cre­ative face of Mul­berry?

“I was ex­tremely hum­bled and proud to be named the cre­ative direc­tor of such an iconic Bri­tish brand which peo­ple love so much. Mul­berry is so iconic and has such a pres­ti­gious her­itage and his­tory, so it was an hon­our for me to join the team. I’m em­brac­ing ev­ery part of my role and am ex­cited for what’s to come.”

How do you feel about be­com­ing a “fa­mous” name now that you are a cre­ative direc­tor?

“I am a cre­ative first and fore­most, so ev­ery­thing I do, I do for the col­lec­tions. I want the de­signs to be able to speak for them­selves.”

What are your in­ten­tions with Mul­berry’s ready-to-wear? Will it, or the bags, drive the brand’s story and iden­tity?

“We’re in the midst of a big mod­erni­sa­tion process, which we are very ex­cited about. I’m pas­sion­ate about de­sign and the whole process that goes with it. It takes so much to go from sketches to cat­walk and that’s what ex­cites me. We’re plan­ning to move Mul­berry for­ward by cre­at­ing more of a life­style brand through ex­pand­ing the prod­uct cat­e­gories into jew­ellery, sunglasses and shoes, as well as con­cen­trat­ing on the ready-to-wear and, of course, bags. There are lots of things to come. Watch this space!”

Do you think the cat­walk pre­sen­ta­tion for­mat is still rel­e­vant for an ac­ces­sories-driven brand like Mul­berry?

“The cat­walk shows are ex­tremely im­por­tant to brands and de­sign­ers. The FW16 show was a defin­ing mo­ment for Mul­berry. We would not have been able to have the im­pact we wanted – and had – with­out a cat­walk show.”

Is Mul­berry con­sid­er­ing a see-now-buy-now ap­proach?

“Yes, Mul­berry em­braces the new see-now-buy-now ap­proach. Our Pre-fall capsule col­lec­tion was avail­able on­line and in stores world­wide on 1 April. This in­cluded key styles, such as the new Clifton and Ch­ester bags, and the Maryle­bone press stud­ded boots and Mary Janes.”

It’s a funny co­in­ci­dence that Spain and the UK’S big­gest bag brands have swapped cre­ative direc­tor na­tion­al­i­ties: Jonathan An­der­son is at Loewe, and you, a Spa­niard, are at Mul­berry. Do you think cre­atives’ na­tion­al­i­ties still mat­ter?

“As long as you un­der­stand the per­son­al­ity and her­itage of the brand, it should not mat­ter where you come from. Mul­berry is both a Bri­tish her­itage and an in­ter­na­tional brand and we want our col­lec­tions to ap­peal to women and men around the world.”

Last ques­tion: Is there a mean­ing to your uni­form of the kilt, hoop ear­rings, etc?

“That’s just me. I love kilts and tar­tan, but I keep it sim­ple with a plain shirt or knit jumper – de­pend­ing on the Bri­tish weather!”

Stills from a teaser video of Johnny Coca at work on his de­but col­lec­tion for Mul­berry.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Singapore

© PressReader. All rights reserved.