Not many people will recognise Katie Hillier’s name but if you are a true fashion lover, chances are you have worn many of her designs. The accessory designer and fashion consultant isn’t just a member of the Brit fashion pack (her best mates are stylist Katie Grand and designers Luella Bartley and Stuart Vevers). She is also the design brains behind countless of “it” bags and accessories sold by brands such as Loewe, Stella McCartney and Victoria Beckham (who, by the way, consulted her when she launched her line of chic handbags). A few years ago she launched her own best-selling line of bags and jewellery, Hillier London, which features her signature bunny motif.
Last year however Katie was thrust into the spotlight when she was asked by Marc Jacobs, whom she has been working with for over a decade, to become creative director of his secondary label Marc by Marc Jacobs. Marc by Marc Jacobs isn’t exactly new but it has definitely played second fiddle to the main line which is loved for its edgy and somewhat quirky style. Katie’s task (along with new design director Luella Bartley) has been to bring back some attitude to the brand which she did with her debut autumn/winter 2014 collection aptly titled “Revolution.”
There was a definite British edge in the styling but the pieces themselves were totally on point with red and black button up shirts, sporty knits and some serious tailoring including a mannish grey jacket with contrasting blue lapels. Accessories like the black leather belts and BMX boots brought the looks together. There were also kitschy touches in the form of jackets with oversized bows, pleated crinoline skirts and words like “Bunny Hop,” plastered on the clothes. They all added to the fun.
We managed to catch Katie on her recent trip to Hong Kong to chat about her love for accessories and Marc Jacobs. Read on to find out more!
Marc by Marc Jacobs autumn/winter 2014
Why did you become an accessories designer?
I fell into it. I made a beaded key ring for Katie [Grand’s] birthday and she loved it. She asked me what else I could do so I made her a few belts which she used in one of her shoots. I was always into art and creating stuff, so it just happened naturally.
You’ve designed bags for almost every designer out there. What’s the secret to creating the perfect it bag?
There isn’t a secret. If you design them collectively as a group and everyone loves it, then you are set!
Favourite bag you have ever created?
The Hillier hobo but I didn’t design it, my designer Sloane did! I love it and everyone who walks into our shop loves it. It was our bestselling bag for years and years.
You’ve been a consultant for so long – why did you decide to take on a fulltime role at Marc by Marc Jacobs?
I was surprised when Marc approached me. I was very nervous, but I was never going to say no! It was a massive job, but I knew it could be exciting. It’s great to work with Luella again and oversee different aspects [of the brand] like the advertising, which I have never dealt with before. At the same time I work harder to make sure I’m still involved in creative. It would be silly to stop doing things I am really good at.
What did you want to do with the first collection?
Bring energy back! This collection is about being a part of a gang that makes you feel good. It’s fashion but its not scary. Anyone can belong.
How would you describe your personal style and does it influence your work?
Yes it does. My friend Tina says my style is feral. It kind of is if you compare it to the usual glamazons you see in fashion. I’d have to say its very tomboy, and I do love my good old fashioned Converse. I like to be able to look good but feel functional.
What’s your biggest indulgence?
Television. I love American TV, especially that show Revenge.
Favourite style icon?
I love Mia Farrow and Diane Keaton. They are 70s chicks, I love that era.
Designers you admire?
Marc Jacobs. He creates a performance just like Lee [McQueen] did. They are the two that have defined my generation of fashion.
Item you can’t live without in your wardrobe?
Currently it’s the Domo backpack by Marc by Marc Jacobs. The one that looks like denim but isn’t.
If you weren’t a designer what would you be?
A farmer, and I am not joking. Or I would do something very sensible like work in Africa. I want to do something that makes me feel happy. There’s a part of me that’s unfulfilled but I am only 40 so hey, there’s still time!