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Iris Vilu

Profession
BA Fashion Jewellery Alum
College
London College of Fashion
Person Type
Alumni
JNGLSNTMSSV Bracelet, designed by Iris Vilu
Iris  Vilu

Biography

Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about what you do?

My name is Iris and I am originally from Tallinn, which is also where I am currently based. I decided to move back to Estonia soon after graduating from BA Fashion Jewellery at LCF in 2019 and I am currently running my small sustainable jewellery brand (JNGLSNTMSSV) here.

What inspired you to launch JNGLSNTMSSV?

Luckily for me, the brand just grew out from my final collection very naturally. I had already made a few diffusion pieces around the statement ones and as people were interested, I decided to just give it a go. But the inspiration behind the original collection was to make something as sustainable and as circular as possible, without compromising on the colours, quality or wearability.

How have you maintained your creative practice in the midst of the pandemic?

For me, the first wave in the spring actually turned out to be quite productive. With so much time at home, I finally had the time to launch my online shop, which had been a long time in the making. Also, I am very grateful to have a chance to do all of my work from my home studio, so I definitely cannot complain! However, I do feel the creativity suffers from not being able to go out and see as much as I have been used to.

Did you always know you wanted to pursue a career in fashion?

I did. Actually, I had always planned a degree in fashion design, but then life happened, and I somehow ended up in jewellery. That is mainly because I was too afraid to apply to many of the fashion courses, even though I had quite a bit of previous experience in it. But yes, I guess life just had different plans for me (for now)!

You recently collaborated with a Womenswear student – can you talk us through the project?

So, it was actually in late 2019 that I was approached by MA Womenswear student Olivia Rubens. She had an idea to make a piece out of recycled plastic for her final collection that was presented at the LCFMA20 show. And soon after doing some samples, we actually decided to make a complete look – a vest and a skirt – out of recycled plastic elements that she had designed and I then executed. (Actually two of them in the end, another one for the ITS competition later!).

Any exciting upcoming projects you can tell us about?

Inspired by mine and Olivia’s collaboration, I am currently working on a new collection that will be using up the material scraps from all of the JNGLSNTMSSV commercial products.

What are your plans for the next few years? Where would you like to see yourself professionally?

In fact, it so happened that I am currently a full-time student again, doing a BA in choreography in Tallinn. So, I really hope I will manage juggling between the studies and managing the brand! I would love to see JNGLSNTMSSV grow on Estonian customers more and more, while not losing my connections in London. Oh, and collaborations – would very much like to do more of these!

What attracted you to LCF?

I have always loved London and I was actually on a class trip to the city in 8th grade when I first saw the LCF building on John Prince’s street and… I don’t exactly remember loving the building or anything, but I remember googling it right after I got home and browsing through all of the available courses. And since then, I just knew!

Why did you decide to study BA Fashion Jewellery?

As I previously mentioned, I guess my fear of pursuing fashion decided it for me. Twice actually. The same happened when I first went to uni in Estonia, where I ended up studying jewellery and blacksmithing for a year (which I then quit to come to LCF). But again, I am sure it was all for a reason.

What did you enjoy the most about the course?

Having had a brief experience on a similar course in a much smaller university in Estonia, I was most pleasantly surprised about how close-knit all of the tutors, technicians and students were. Considering the amount of students, I was not expecting the staff to manage taking such personal approaches to all of their students’ works – but they did!

Can you tell us a bit about your favourite project completed on the course?

Leaving my final collection aside, I would say it was the work I submitted for the Pewter Live competition in 2017 (a part of the Aesthetics and Identity Unit, if I remember correctly). The pieces were made from pewter and carpet flooring symbolising the old ‘Russian rugs’ that were very popular in the Eastern Bloc countries during the Soviet Union.

Best advice you received from a lecturer/tutor during your time at LCF?

It would be very difficult to choose any one piece of advice! But I can honestly say I am very thankful for being able to have had such supportive tutors (and technicians) around me throughout my time at LCF. In general, I just think they found all the right ways to encourage the very shy and guarded me to find my own way in the industry.

What advice would you give to potential students who would like to enrol on this course?

I would definitely advise the students to make the most out of their time at the workshops, ask a lot of questions from the tutors and technicians and create as much as possible!