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My fashion life - Jessy Heuvelink

J Lindeberg’s head of design talks about the UK launch of his womenswear range and his sideline in leather jackets and masks.

You’re officially launching premium brand J Lindeberg’s womenswear (pictured below) in the UK for spring 15 - why now?
After a successful relaunch of our women’s line in Scandinavia, this season we felt ready to spread our international wings. With our men’s collection already having an impressive following in the UK [with stockists including Harvey Nichols, House of Fraser and Stuarts London] it felt natural to premiere the womenswear there.

What are your favourite pieces in the collection?
I love all the floral and animal-printed garments and the menswear-inspired tailored blazers. Suits are key for the JL look, and of course the leather pieces. [Average retail prices range from £25 for T-shirts to £225 for jackets.]

You also design J Lindeberg menswear - do you find it easier designing for men or women?
I find it really exciting to design for both men and women. It also makes sense in order to keep the overall look cohesive and focused. There is of course a difference in designing menswear and womenswear. With menswear the frame in which you can move is much more restricted, it’s more classic and conservative, but it is an exciting challenge to make [the collection] feel fresh and modern all the time. With womenswear you can experiment more, use elaborate fabrications, try new proportions and shapes and push things a bit further. The dynamics of designing both collections - with the cross-pollinations and interaction - makes the work exciting and interesting for me.

What’s the best thing about your job?
It’s that my job is not a job, it’s my passion. I am fortunate I can do what I love to do every day and call it a job.

And what’s the worst?
When I said the best thing about my job is that it’s not a job, it’s my passion, don’t get me wrong, but it is a hell of a lot of work. Fashion never sleeps and neither does creativity.

You worked for couture houses Viktor & Rolf and Christian Lacroix in Paris, then Adidas. How does that experience help you now?
It might not seem an obvious path, but for me it has been extremely beneficial to experience both worlds. I understand the world of couture with its one-of-a-kind, almost artisan, approach where craftsmanship, patience and an eye for detail are key. Sportswear on the other hand is on the opposite side of the fashion equation. It’s fast, mainstream and innovative in a totally different way. But at J Lindeberg, where the world of fashion meets sportswear under one roof, my eclectic skills come in more than handy.

You’re a Dutch person living in Sweden - what’s the biggest misconception about Scandinavia?
That everybody is tall, blond and drop-dead gorgeous. There is much more diversity to this beautiful country.

Why do you think the world is so interested in Scandinavian style?
Scandinavian design is honest. It’s to the point, no frills and has a timeless aesthetic to it. In a time of overconsumption and an unstable economy people are drawn to honest design, timeless pieces and craftsmanship, values that Scandinavians carry with pride.

You’ve been at J Lindeberg for nearly 10 years - what has been your career highlight so far?
Wow, there are many but just being able to grow with each collection and still enjoying my job as much as I did 10 years ago is fantastic. I was awarded the prestigious prize of designer of the year 2013 by [Swedish men’s monthly] Café Magazine and that was a milestone, both for my work as head designer at JL and my personal career.

What else would you like to achieve in your career?
To show our collection on an international platform like London or New York Fashion Week. That would be fantastic.

If you weren’t working in fashion what would you be doing?
An architect or ballet dancer, but still something creative.

What is the most treasured item in your wardrobe?
My worn-in leather jacket. It travels with me everywhere I go, no matter what the weather.

What is the most expensive item in your wardrobe?
A pair of limited-edition studded Prada loafers, painfully expensive for a pair of shoes but I couldn’t resist.

What’s the favourite thing you’ve designed?
My can’t-live-without leather jacket, classic and simple. It’s hard to design pieces that stick with you forever, or at least until they fall apart. But when you do they are winners and become true favourites.

Other than J Lindeberg, what are your favourite brands?
At the moment I’m a big fan of Saint Laurent, but also what Raf Simons does for Dior is amazing. Prada, of course, and now Nicolas Ghesquèire has joined Louis Vuitton I’m expecting exciting things to happen.

It’s clear you’re a big fan of leather. Why?
It’s been a fascination for as long as I can remember. I love the intoxicating scent and the way you can manipulate it, treat it and shape it. It’s a rewarding material to work with.

Tell us something not many people know about you.
I’ve recently launched an exciting side project under the name JH Nocturnal. It’s a collection of handcrafted embellished leather masks and luxury leather accessories. In the evenings at the kitchen table I cut, glue and shape leather and apply thousands of rhinestones and feathers as a form of meditation, so to say.

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