THE HIDDEN WORLD OF Ilja Visser
Ilja Visser is a Dutch fashion designer who founded both a couture line called 'Ilja' and a commercial label, Ready to fish_. Her studio, showroom and brand store are based in the city centre of Amsterdam. She studied Fashion Design at the Arts Academy in Arnhem (NL). The fine skills were learned during her apprenticeships with Donna Karan in New York and Maria Cornejo.More
Working for Ilja Visser series – Nina (part 1)
The Hidden World has been on set for a few times for the campaigns of ILJA and Ready to fish_. We’ve mistaken her for a model first but soon Ilja corrected us to say that Nina was her Brand manager. After observing her on the job we invited Nina for an interview during lunch hours (she’s busy busy busy). Read more on this ambitious and fashionable woman with a love for beautiful images and food….
THW: What’s your background? Did you always want to work in fashion?
N: As a young girl I knew fashion was the thing for me. My grandfather had a high-end fashion boutique in the Hague. He was the one who introduced the label Céline in the Netherlands for instance. So fashion does run in the family, although it skipped a generation according to my mother ;-). I started Fashion & Branding at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute and worked as a stylist for one year after graduating. Then I started working for Ilja Visser.
HW: Tell us how you became the Brand manager for Ilja Visser?
N: Through my own network I discovered that Ilja Visser was looking for people to help build her brands and I managed to get an interview with one of her people. An hour later I got a call that Ilja wanted to talk to me in person. Oh my God! Is this really happening?? I might be working for one of the Dutch designers! I suddenly realized that this is the job I really want. That’s when I got nervous… a few hours later I went back with sweaty palms to meet her in person.
She sat there being all relaxed and cool. At the end of the interview she said that I got the job. Wow! I was over the moon! But just to be clear, I didn’t start as the Brand manager. I’ve grown into that role.
THW: So what did you do when you started out?
N: Well, I started in the summer of 2009 to assist in everything that was necessary as we were just starting up. After a month or so I was at Amsterdam International Fashion Week to help produce the shows for both ILJA and Ready to fish_. Fresh out of college and now already in the epic centre of Dutch fashion. I really loved it; felt like coming home.
After producing the show, I started to help focusing Ilja on the two brands ILJA and Ready to fish_. There were four brands at first, which was too much to handle for the amount of people working there at that time (around 6 persons). I started to develop the campaigns for the lines and set up the websites as well, which was necessary as we’re internationally focused.
THW: Wow, you’ve really seen the company grow!
N: Yes, I remember vividly the office we had on top of Maison de Bonneterie (department store in the centre of Amsterdam & The Hague). It was a storage room turned into an office with plastered walls, a few tables and a small fridge. Everybody brought their own laptop to work on.
A world of difference with the office we have now on the canals of Amsterdam with the brand store on the ground floor, the studio, showroom and office all in one beautiful building.
THW: So you’ve grown into your role. What’s your role description now then?
I’m responsible for the commercial images and brand identity of both ILJA and Ready to fish_ both off and online. In line with that I produce the shows and manage all the press relations in-house; we work with SPICE PR regarding that as well.
When Ilja and her design team are ready they present the concept of the next collections regarding the forms, fabrics and colours they will use. I’m thus not involved in the development of the concept for the collections. That’s input for me to think of how we communicate these collections to our clients, industry and the press.
Based on their presentation I look around for inspiration in images, films, shows, books, blogs and magazines. I keep all the clippings in separate folders to make sure I don’t confuse the lines ;-). I talk to people in the business to see what’s possible with events, locations, hair & make-up. Then I present my ideas with a budget and plan.
If Ilja and the design team agree I take care of the production of these images and events. That means looking for the photographer and/or film team, hair & make-up artists and casting of the models. I make sure that all these people know what and when to do it (briefing and call sheet).
I always strive to do something different and work it out in the details. For example, when we presented the collection Craft of ILJA in the Rijksmuseum which was still being renovated at that time I thought of the idea to send the invitations in cement. For our Ready to fish_ show Escapism - which was based around a circus theme - I sent around an e-mail for people to save the date including a link to a short video.
When invitees opened the actual paper invitation they would hear the same circus theme tune and glitter would sprung up from the card. People would get immediately in the mood and set in the concept. The party after the show was in circus theme with fortune tellers, candy floss, popcorn and nice cocktails, the whole works. This video gives you a view what it was like.
A year ago we organized Friday Afternoon drinks for our friends, clients and people in the business. This meant organising the invitations, DJ’s, drinks & bites etc. Since Ready to fish_ also searches for undiscovered music I also take care of the production of our compilation CD. In January we released our third CD already! Time flies….
Find out tomorrow if this multi-tasking lady in fashion has any stress. In addition, we looked to the past and to the future as well. To be continued so stay tuned....
By A Web Design Company