Brief Encounters: Katie Hillier

The British accessories designer and creative consultant has worked with countless brands while overseeing her own line of jewellery and bags, Hillier London. Last year she was chosen by Marc Jacobs to become creative director of his secondary line, Marc by Marc Jacobs.

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 August, 2014, 12:10am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 August, 2014, 12:10am

 "I was raised and educated in London. When I was at school I really enjoyed art, but I hated anything academic. Even my teachers encouraged me in my creative subjects but I was unsure how art and having a 'real' job worked together!

After my A-levels I decided to do a course in pattern cutting; I liked fashion as a kid, and my parents also loved shopping, so it seemed like a good option.

My career has very much been shaped and influenced by my friends, namely [stylist] Katie Grand and designers Luella Bartley and Stuart Vevers, with whom I studied. I met Katie at university and made her a beaded key ring for her birthday. It was actually similar to one my parents gave me after visiting the US. Katie loved it and asked me what else I could do.

I went on to make several belts for her, which she used in her shoots and the rest, as they say, is history. So I guess in a nutshell, I owe my career to my parents more than anyone else.

Through Katie I met Luella, and that's when I really got involved in accessory design. Although I had studied ready-to-wear, accessories were a new thing at the time. It was cool and fun, and no one was doing them.

Over the years I have done various jobs from consulting to designing, and the fashion world just grew bigger and bigger. Back then it was slower, and we used to have dead time between seasons. That doesn't exist any more. There's a lot more competition, too, but that keeps you on your toes. Coming up with new ideas is exciting for me.

I've always been a consultant for Marc by Marc Jacobs, but last year things changed when Marc asked me to be creative director for the brand.

Being properly attached to the brand meant that I was part of a whole new world from business and management to team building. It's fascinating. I've also learned the art of creative delegation, which is fun.

The general public, or GP as I like to call them, didn't really know who I was, so it's been a bit of a change to be thrust into the public spotlight. Some people, like Marc, have a lot of charisma. But I am not like that, so it's different. I think in order to survive in this industry you need to surround yourself with young creative people, and give them the confidence and trust to create new things. It's about the new generation.

As soon as I joined the brand officially, I felt it was important to make everyone excited about what they were doing. Our main thing was to stop the brand from being a secondary line and making it a collection on its own.

Our first collection [for autumn-winter 2014] brings some spirit and energy back to the brand, and this runs through the clothes and the advertising.

Marc by Marc Jacobs is all about belonging, and being part of a gang that makes you feel good. It is fashion but it's not scary. You can go into the store and have a look around without feeling intimidated. It's accessible in the way you wear it, and how it is priced.

I am based between London and New York and both cities inspire me, thanks to their culture, art and music. In London there is a certain attitude, a confidence.

People like to take risks, so you do get some of that in the [ready-to-wear] collection. That spirit is already very much part of the brand.

I don't have a set vision for Marc by Marc Jacobs. The main thing for us is to continue in the spirit that we have, be experimental, and continue with these amazing campaigns.

It adds a whole new edge to the brand - I want us to be innovative in the way we try things and develop new products. I'm always pushing the handbag, so to speak."

As told to Divia Harilela