Lily Marpaung

Lily Marpaung is the Senior Fashion Editor at Harper's Bazaar Indonesia. She graduated from MA Fashion Journalism in 2012.

What does your current role at Indonesian Harper's involve?

As the Senior Fashion Editor for Harper's Bazaar Indonesia (HBI), I'm in charge of all fashion articles each month, including The News, Fashion Review, Talking Point and Fashion Report. I have one Editor and a few Senior Reporters that help me. My job involves a lot of writing, editing, interviews, and travelling. It's very exciting as I get to experiment with different and unconventional themes every month.

Moreover, we just launched our Indonesian website this year and I'm very involved in the Fashion and Shopping section. Online is a new medium for me. It's very challenging yet exciting and I learn new things everyday.

Can you tell us about the Indonesian fashion media industry?

The media industry is growing more than ever now. We have a lot of new titles here now, both international and local ones. Back in the early 2000, HBI was the first luxury international titles - we were the pioneer. But now we have Elle, InStyle, Marie Claire and L'Officiel to name a few.

Could you explain what your final project was?

My final project was a big retrospective on 20 most prominent Indonesian designers - 100 pages. It was published as a special project inside HBI January 2013 to mark our 150th issue. 

I did a one on one interview with the designers talking about every single thing from their childhood, college days, early years as struggling designers and how they made it in fashion. I also show their past and best works throughout their career. The special project includes inspirational stories, photo shoots, past collections and unpublished photo materials from 20 designers.

How did this result in a job offer?

Working for Harper's Bazaar Indonesia has always been my dream. Before LCF, I was the Fashion Editor for Cosmopolitan Indonesia and the magazine belongs to the same publishing group so I know Harper's Editor in Chief quite well.

When Harper's Bazaar Indonesia visited London for an event, I met with her and I casually pitched my idea to her. It happened on my first term in college. I shaped my idea into a project that I knew that Harper's Bazaar Indonesia would love to work on but have to time to really do it. She liked my idea and decided to publish my project. Luckily, she also picked January 2013 for the publishing date which matched LCF deadline perfectly. Along the way, she offered me a position at Harper's Bazaar Indonesia once I've finished my course.

What were you doing before you came to LCF?

I was the Fashion Editor for Cosmopolitan Indonesia. I worked for the magazine for 3 and a half year. It was my first job ever and I started as an intern for 2 months. On my third week, the Fashion Assistant took a leave for a whole week and I had to assist on my own our Head of Fashion Stylist on 2 projects. It was a nerve wrecking experience but since then I realized that my first love is editorial.

Where did you grow up? What path did you take to where you are now?

Born and bred in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. I'm now 28 years old and actually I studied Pharmacy for my Undergraduate course. People find it funny how I moved from Science to Fashion. But no, nobody forced me to take science in college because I actually really like it and I see science as one of my hobbies.

What was the thinking behind your MA Project?

I've always wanted to do something about Indonesian fashion scene because I thing it has great potential. I realized that there were only so little information about my own designer so I wanted too create a book about them. It was meant to be a reference book on the best of Indonesian fashion. For example, I once looked up Adrian Gan on the internet and came up with very little information with no credible pictures. It's such a shame because Adrian Gan is one of our best couturier with breathtaking collections.

I want to share with people the richness of my culture, the great minds behind Indonesian designers in a more humble way. The society tend to look at fashion scene as a place full of very glamorous people and lifestyle but deep down the real fashion insiders don't really lead that kind of life.

The book project then changed into magazine supplement because it was the better medium for my idea. Harper's Bazaar Indonesia is the best partner for my project because the magazine has long history of supporting Indonesian's best talent since Harper's Bazaar first issue in 2000.

What was challenging about producing this piece of work?

The most challenging thing about my work is collecting pictures from the designers. They were not big fashion houses with PR department therefore they didn't really keep a good archive on their clothes. I had to work with materials that I can collect and create the best possible outcome.

Why did you choose to study journalism at LCF?

Simply, because LCF offers the best programme. I wanted to study also about books, website and publishing and LCF has it all.

How would you describe your experience on the course? Do you have any particular memories?

It was amazing. Meeting all these fashion insiders that talk in our class was the best part because it's very real and appropriate. Even though I have a working experience back home, I still find it very useful to hear insights from people from the other side of the world.

For my first term project, I did a photo shoot inside the tube station. My team and I managed to dodge the security but in the end the kicked us out right after we finished our last frame. It was the first time in my life working on editorial projects without the help from PR team, professional photographer, make up artist and models, editorial team and basically without the help of my credential as a magazine journalist. The small magazine I created for my assignment is a very humbling experience

Did you feel supported throughout your MA and in your next move?

Yes, we always had insightful tutorials to help us plan our next move during the course. I'm very happy that Andrew asked us to create a magazine project for the Graduate Fashion Week. He helped us create a good portfolio from all our assignments so it will be then easier for us to find a job.

Moreover, during London Fashion Week, Andrew actually let us skip classes if we have tickets to the shows because he wanted us to have that experience. It's very generous because I get to have my first Fashion Week experience then.

Did you achieve what you set out to?

Yes, I finished a project that I'm very proud of and get the job I've always wanted. Our January 2013 issue was sold out and there are designers that called me personally to express their gratitude. I think the best part of being a journalist is seeing your name on print but having people call you just to say they're happy is something else.

What insights or skills did the MA give you? 

I got to learn from international fashion insiders and it was a great experience. In the end, the course has broaden my horizon about fashion worldwide.

If you could offer advice to anyone thinking of doing the course, what would it be?

Have an open mind and make a lot of friends because at the end of the day it's about who you know and not just how good you are.