The Arts

An Interview With Julia Jentzsch

Her voice was soft but confident; Julia was a natural. You would never guess she doesn’t get interviewed often. Friendly and open, she began with her origin story. 

“A friend of our family said: I think you are a fashion designer, and I didn’t even understand it, but it was so true. I was already knitting all my sweaters [and] I created outfits for work… I never thought someone noticed. I had never heard about the profession before. I guess it was just something I was good at.”

In the late 1990s, Julia’s talents landed her internships and jobs for prominent modernist designers like John Galliano and Jil Sander. In the 2000s she went on to design for Yves Saint Laurent, Calvin Klein, and Tom Ford, who hired her for her creative eye and minimalist style. Later on, she found herself consulting on the side for other designers like Vera Wang, and eventually, she opened her own fashion company.

Julia: “I got hired for the look that I had. [Laurent] thought we were all useless… ‘They’re all useless and bad designers. But there’s this one girl–she might have potential’ He thought all designers had no talent [except] him and two other Parisian designers. So at least I was not completely dismissed. I had potential.” 

Her time with these designers laid the blueprint for Julia’s own company. From them she learned how to research a concept, spot a worthwhile silhouette, collaborate with professionals from different backgrounds, and how to have the best show of the season. When she started a company of her own, there was no doubt that she knew everything about clothing, but her business management skills needed a bit of work. 

Julia: “I wasn’t involved. I worked in the Fashion Design department… All I knew was that they bought 200 of this fabric[and] someone will somewhere sew it, but I design it. It’s like a small world on its own. You don’t necessarily get to know how the whole system works…Sales: where do I sell it? PR: where to advertise it?… It [was] small steps–one step at a time.” 

Julia quickly learned, however, that running a business was draining and left much to be desired as an artist. 

Julia: “I love to work as an artist. I love to spend time in an atelier, very quiet and be focused…For me, it was very difficult in the beginning. The need to communicate…is actually a distraction…I don’t have enough creative time because I run the business now and I have to remember what needs to happen at every moment. It takes me away from the creative time. To be creative you have to be free of trouble–you need to be relaxed and be inspired.”

Yet, Julia doesn’t regret forming her company. Being busy has never stopped her from finding the time to create. Julia is a craftswoman before anything else. She believes that a successful fashion company cannot exist without the passion to create. As a result, artistry is her priority. That is not to say the financial success of her company isn’t important to her, but its success would not exist if at some point she did not indulge her creativity. 

Julia: “The process of creating in fashion, it in itself, is actually a beautiful thing…But not like beauty in the sense that the end result is beautiful — like a beautiful model or something like that — but it’s beauty in actually making the thing. The craftsmanship in itself is a beautiful thing…[and] it’s not talked about how beautiful things are made.”

Julia herself explains that it is important for her company to emphasize the crafting process. For her, fabrics are the foundation–they lead to sketches and eventually a deliberate design. From the design comes the prototype, which is nipped and tucked until it reaches its final form as a piece of clothing. And being an artist means this process requires a hands-on approach. Julia’s own touch is in everything she produces.

What legitimizes Julia as a true craftswoman is her emphasis on quality and longevity. A principle born from her studies of the Bauhaus school of thought, Julia believes that a craft is most valuable when it is useful. Her investment in her designs create a timeless wardrobe made from the highest quality materials, with each piece suitable for almost any occasion. Julia herself wears clothing that she purchased over a decade ago. Her clothing reflects personal standards, meaning that Julia will not sell any item that she would not own herself.

Julia is approaching the latter part of her 10,000 hours and has an honorable reputation within the fashion industry. Observation of her career begs the question of why her rise to relevance has been such a slow process.

Julia: “I don’t know what it is. People are not really ready for it…It’s the fear of the emptiness. If you’re not loud, people are scared. But it can turn around. I love fashion for that. Only one person comes and turns it around. It’s a bit like cooking. You have to wait.”

It should be mentioned that Julia’s uninhibited creativity has earned her a deserved seat at the table with other distinguished world designers. In 2018, The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc. (CFDA) recognized Julia for her contribution to Western fashion. 

Hopefully, this kind of acknowledgment will continue. The world looks forward to seeing more of Julia’s work in the future. 

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