Imagine you were a designer for Celine. Accessories designer. Head of accessories – bags, shoes, sunglasses, jewelry and all.

Well, you are not, but Johnny Coca is.1granary_1granary.com_central_saint_martins_celine_bag_project_1000

Accessories designer Louise Davies and Johnny Coca.

He was also the guest tutor for the recent accessories project of 2nd Year Fashion Design and Marketing. The students were briefed by Johnny to develop an innovative concept for designing a bag where coolness, function and beauty were priority.

After a month of intense work, designing and sampling, the students were gathered for a talk with Johnny where he gave some invaluable insight about what it is to be the designer of the most coveted bags worldwide, he looked through sketchbooks, research and samples of students and gave his personal feedback.

Thanks to Heather Sprout, 1 Granary also managed to hear Johnny’s talk.

Almost as if a tale, Johnny started by telling us that he didn’t study to be a designer. His first step into the fashion world was designing and drawing windows for the Louis Vuitton boutiques just to earn some extra cash. Inevitably these windows had bags and drawing them Johnny thought “Oh it is really easy to design bags”. He drew some, showed them at LV and there he was with his first job.

Then there were Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford and other dream employers.

After designing for Celine for 4 years and traveling between Paris and London, Johnny Coca knows how to design what people want before they even know they want it.

Which made him the perfect guest tutor. Johnny spoke with all 17 FDM students and explained the strengths and weaknesses of their work.

There were a few best designs chosen, those of Grace Gowers, Qiying Fang, Nathan Moy and Ella Ren but one was the lucky bastard to be pointed out as a winner – Amir Khorasany. His design is indeed very cool. He wanted a malleable feel for the structure of the bag so there were references to artists such as Robert Morris and Daniele Papuli.

You can see examples of his beautiful play with leather strips and the bag’s prototype.1granary_1granary.com_central_saint_martins_celine_bag_project_1005


Wait for the best part! As a winner of the project, Amir’s design is going to be brought to life in Celine’s very own French factory!

“When you figure out what you want to do, what category you want to develop as your future job, make sure you are the best.”

Here is Johnny’s advice to CSM’s students:

When I started designing bags, I said to myself, ‘Okay, I want to know everything now – how to design, how to make it, the leathers, the fastenings, all the market, all the competitors, everything.

Only creativity isn’t enough. I meet so many designers that are very creative but don’t know the market or what the people want or how to adapt their style to a brand and the other way around.

There should be no question you cannot answer in your field. After that you can move to another category. For example after accessories, I knew everything on sunglasses and optical, then everything on shoes. You have to be able to explain to the team, to a CEO, to a factory worker. Learn everything.

After that is it quite easy and you can select who to work for.

Thanks, Johnny!

As Heather Sprout pointed out ‘Once you leave college, the real education begins’.

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