Elena Munoz: a creative career in Paris
3 April 2012 by TexSelect in Alumni Stories, Fashion
Innovative knitwear designer Elena Munoz – Texprint Knit Prize winner 2010 – is now employed as an assistant knitwear designer at legendary French fashion brand Givenchy. Elena had previously gained a prestigious seven-month internship as an assistant knit designer for Balenciaga – another iconic Parisian fashion label. We catch up with Elena to find out more about these exciting developments in her career.
Congratulations on your wonderful new job as assistant knit designer at Givenchy – how did this come about? I did an internship at Balenciaga, and when this was coming to an end a designer from the company put me in contact with a Parisian headhunter who then got me the interview at Givenchy.
Elena Munoz, design from 2010
How was the interview process? After the first interview with the director of human resources at Givenchy, I was then invited for a second interview a few weeks later with the manager of womenswear. My portfolio was then shown for approval to the artistic director. The entire process took about two months.
Where are you based – and can you tell us about the studio environment? The studio is based in Paris above the Givenchy store on Avenue George V. Every department has its own distinct space: haute couture and its atelier, menswear, womenswear and accessories are divided into separate floors.
You won the Texprint Knit Prize in 2010 – what did that mean to you? Through Texprint I gained a lot of confidence in my work and in myself when liaising with buyers and networking. I think this is the best experience and the best help a textile design graduate can be given when finishing his or her studies. I am really grateful to all of the Texprint team. The advice was invaluable – how to best present your work to the industry, how to develop skills – such as creating relationships with clients, and of course valuing and pricing your work. It was an incredible opportunity to be given a stand to show and sell my work at Première Vision in Paris, and in Hong Kong.
What was the highlight of the Texprint process for you? Being selected for Texprint was a fantastic continuation of my studies because it led me directly into the professional world. I really enjoyed the Hong Kong trip. It was also great to meet and to exchange ideas with the other five Texprint special prize winners.
What did you do after Texprint? I interned for one season at Céline’s knit and jersey department in London. I was then commissioned to create some catwalk knit pieces for Guy Laroche, based on a sample they purchased from me at Première Vision. Then I was offered the internship at Balenciaga and moved to Paris.
Elena Munoz, design from 2010
What inspired you to choose knitwear as a discipline initially? I chose knit as my specialty because of the possibilities for three-dimensional creation and experimentation that the medium allows. The process of working and creating with knitting machines has always felt very natural to me.
What have been the most significant moments in your career path so far? Being accepted into Central Saint Martins to study knitwear (after business studies in my native Madrid) was really a turning point for me. It made me strive to always push boundaries within my creative field. Moving to London from Spain was a great cultural experience and was a key factor for me in deciding to combine textiles with fashion. A further significant moment was being selected for Texprint – a great showcase to present my work internationally.
After London, it just felt natural to move to Paris in order to continue to develop my passion for knitwear. I have been given great opportunities to experience the expertise of some great Parisian design studios. Today I’m very happy to be part of such a prestigious fashion house.
What is your advice to new graduates? Develop your networking skills because you need them! Get in contact with agents or headhunters to help you to find a job, and try to gain as much experience as you can as an intern or by freelancing to build a strong portfolio. Never stop doing what you like most.
And to students embarking on a degree? Work hard and enjoy these years as much as you can. Remember that it’s only by pushing yourself that you get the most interesting outcomes.
What are your plans for the future? It’s difficult to project ahead to the future, but whatever I am doing – I hope to always apply the same passion and the same energy.