skip to main content

Meet: Jane Gottelier

Written by
Published date 25 September 2017

Central Saint Martins, MA Textiles & BA (Hons) Fashion (1970-74)
International Designer, Educator & one of 2017’s Women of Achievement

photographic portrait of Jane Gottelier

In 1977, following a stint in the BBC’s costume department, Jane along with her husband Patrick (CSM, Industrial Design), started revolutionary knitwear brand Artwork. Throughout the next 3 decades, Artwork turned the preconceptions of what knitwear was on its head, challenged industry norms and found innovative approaches to fashion. Thanks to this way of working Artwork became one of the biggest designer knitwear brands selling to the most prestigious international fashion retailers and consulting top names such as Marks & Spencer. In 2014 Artwork was featured in From Club to Catwalk, an exhibition at the V&A Museum in London, documenting the 1980’s Cultural Revolution and the birth of some of the most iconic contemporary designers. The same year, Jane was also asked to be a judge at Sri Lanka’s Design Festival. If this wasn’t enough, 2014 also saw Jane became a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters and was honoured with the ‘Freedom of the City of London’ title.

The Gotteliers have also been influential in the education sector. In 2006, their commercial successes lead both Jane and Patrick to be asked to join Falmouth University as consultants to complete a feasibility study, looking into whether there should be a fashion course down at the idyllic Cornwall campus. Two were founded thanks to their work, the acclaimed BA (Hons) Fashion Design and BA (Hons) Performance Sportswear Design courses. The Gotteliers stayed to take the helm of these new departments. They have now received international recognition by being appointed De Tao Masters which has seen them join the DeTao Masters Academy in Shanghai setting up the Advanced Fashion Design programme, where they now work alongside other key luminaries from across the globe.

Jane’s four decades of creative and commercial success within the fashion, design and education industries have been recognised through an invitation to attend the prestigious Women of the Year Lunch as a 2017 Woman of Achievement, to which Jane feels “honoured and humbled”.

Artwork featured in Vogue magazine

Congratulations on being a 2017 Woman of Achievement. How does it feel to be recognised for your accomplishments in this way?
I feel very humbled and honoured.

What other women/woman in the creative or educational industries have inspired you?
As a teenager I was inspired by Mary Quant and wanted to have my own fashion boutique like her. I think now there are many inspirational women in the creative industries that I admire such as Miuccia Prada, Jil Sander, Phoebe Philo, and Uma Wang.  In the educational arena I have been very inspired by Li Edelkoort and her approach to creative curriculum design when she was Chairwoman of Design Academy Eindhoven.

Jane teaching

What has been the biggest challenge in your career to date?
Moving to China, when Patrick and I were invited to become DeTao Masters. We were originally invited because of our background in fashion design and having co-founded two international fashion brands that span over 27 years. The DeTao Masters Academy in Shanghai is on the campus of Shanghai Institute of Visual Art and has 500 Masters from around the world ,60 of us have design studios with in the DeTao building and 10 of us have founded and run Advanced B.A. design courses. The idea behind the DeTao group is that we are a group of creative specialists who can be called upon to carry out creative projects for private or government businesses. The group includes musicians, composers, film producers, architects, marketers, ecologists, furniture design, themed environment designers and fashion designers to name just a few. We come from all over the world and have a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with each other. In the pipe line for our studio is an indigo project in Nantong, and a yoga wear collection. I have been working on two intangible cultural heritage projects that involve teaching workshops with minority Chinese Designers and Makers in S.W and NW China. Along with this Patrick and I co founded the BA.  Gottelier Studio Fashion Course at DeTao Masters Academy Shanghai four years ago and are first graduates showing in Shanghai Fashion Week in 2018. We also founded a B.A. Fashion Promotion course at Wuhan Institute of Design and Science, so I am kept pretty busy!

group of people with temple background

Jane with some of her students

What are you most proud of?
My two sons, Tom and William. Tom is now a successful Product Designer living and working in LA and he and his partner Bobby Petersen both RCA graduates. They have the brand ‘Designers on Holiday’. William our younger son is an architect in London working for the practice IF_DO who have some amazing projects on at the moment and designed the Pavilion for the Dulwich Picture Gallery this summer.

You currently spend a lot of time in Shanghai, how does it compare to the U.K.?
Well it is very different from London and Cornwall where I live when I am not in Shanghai. It is huge, and has a population of 24.15 Million. However, I never get overwhelmed by it as like London it was originally a series of inter-connecting areas. We live in the Former French Concession known locally as the F.F.C. which is a bit like Paris with tree lined avenues and turn of the century French architecture which is indiscriminately jumbled up with towering skyscrapers. Our home is on the top two floors of a house built in 1924 which is in a series of pedestrian lanes off Huai Hai Middle Rd. People who have never been to Shanghai will probably think it a concrete jungle, but it is not, it is surprisingly green with parks and beautiful planting along most roads. I have found the people in Shanghai incredibly friendly and helpful and we seem to share the same sense of humour! I am particularly passionate about the new Chinese designers in Shanghai, many of them having been trained at C.S.M. who now have their own highly creative fashion design labels, in a very few years’ time they will take the fashion world by storm!

Fondest Memories of your time at St Martins (CSM)?
There are a lot, one must be all the fantastic lecturers I had while at St Martins who taught me so much while I was there, especially Elizabeth Suter, Bobby Hillson and Shookoh Hakimi, I wouldn’t be who I am now without them. I also made fantastic friends at both St Martins and at The Central, and of course met my future husband Patrick there who was studying Industrial Design. My relationship with CSM goes back a long way to when my mother was pregnant with me, she was Margaret Woodward who was a student and then lecturer in Costume Design in the Theatre Department. She was directly responsible for training many Oscar winning Costume Designers and also illustrated and saw to press the seminal book ‘The Cut of Women’s Clothes ‘. So I was literally being taken to the Central as a baby!

passport photographs of class

Jane (top right) with her 1973 St Martins classmates

What do you think is the most important thing you did after you left CSM?
I think starting Artwork with my husband Patrick on the 7/7/77. I had always wanted to have my own fashion label rather than work for someone else and being able to do this was a dream come true. I could have not done it without Patrick and likewise he could not have done it without me. We have been described as two sides of a coin! However, I did 4 years’ hard graft after leaving CSM. and before starting Artwork which included working as an assistant costume designer at BBC, Ballet Costume and Accessory Design, and teaching History of Fashion at Chelsea School of Art and Middlesex Polytechnic. I would never recommend graduates to set up their own businesses straight away, but get experience working in a larger company first.

Jane reunited with her former classmates (2013) in the new fashion studios at CSM

Find out more about UAL’s Alumni Association and how to organise your own class reunion