Everything you need to know about Johnny Coca, the man behind Celine's iconic bags...
Just in time for the festive season, the fascinating game of fashion musical chairs has commenced as Johnny Coca, the Head Design Director for leather goods and accessories at Celine has announced his departure from the Parisian label to take up the role of Creative Director at iconic handbag label, Mulberry.
But why is this so important? Well, Mulberry’s latest recruit means that a big shake-up in the clothing and handbag designs as well as the way we see the label through campaigns and celeb endorsements is set for a seriously big change.
Coca succeeds Emma Hill who departed the label nearly 18 months ago citing “disagreements with management over creative and operational strategy”. Hill is widely credited for completely transforming Mulberry into the global brand it is today. No pressure there then, Johnny.
Coca won’t join the British company until July next year, but it’s a significant development for the label and its aesthetic. Mulberry, who counts Alexa Chung and Cara Delevingne among its array of A-list postergirls has been without a creative director for nearly eighteen months.
As Mulberry’s Creative Director, Johnny will be responsible for all of Mulberry’s collections, reporting to Godfrey Davis, Chairman and CEO. Johnny Coca said of the appointment: “I very much look forward to joining Mulberry as their new Creative Director and to leading a new design direction at one of the very best British Brands.”
So who exactly is Johnny Coca? And what does it mean for Mulberry? Here’s everything you need to know about the new Creative Director and what it could mean for the British institution…
Born in Seville, Coca has spent much of his career in Paris, having worked at Louis Vuitton before Céline. However, he already has links with London, with a tutoring role at Central St Martins. Johnny intends to ensure that Mulberry continues its tradition of encouraging new young talent as he helps to build the next generation at Mulberry.
Johnny is set to bring his signature brand of Parisian cool to the Somerset-based label. After moving to France, the designer studied art, architecture and design at the École des Beaux-Arts and École Boulle in Paris. His source of inspiration lies heavily in his passion for fashion and design, art and architecture, film and music which has long been visible on the Celine catwalks and is sure to dominate his direction at Mulberry.
Coca joins from Céline, where he has been responsible for some of the bestselling – and most copied – bags and shoes of the past decade. Welcome news for Mulberry’s falling sales… Coca also helped produce the cult Trapeze bag, and has also previously worked for Bally and Louis Vuitton in accessories. For the last few seasons Celine has dominated the IT-Bag market, and that’s all down to Johnny’s creative direction. So merge that with Mulberry’s cool Brit status and heritage fabrics and skills and we predict seriously great things.
Accessories have played a heavily influential role in the Celine aesthetic for many seasons. From the non-branded cult-like bags and the over-sized geometric jewellery, to the single earring which kick-started AW14’s biggest jewellery trend, Johnny has been responsible for it all. His expertise clearly lies with accessories which heavily hints that Mulberry may be shifting its focus onto accessories more than clothing.
As yet, Johnny hasn’t actually designed a womenswear clothing collection. His first step into the fashion world was designing and drawing windows for the Louis Vuitton boutiques. Inevitably these windows had bags within them which helped Johnny realise his passion. So he drew some designs, showed them to Louis Vuitton and landed his first job. Then there were Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford and other dream employers. Should we be worried that he hasn’t designed any womenswear? Not at all. Hedi Slimane, Saint Laurent’s head designer hadn’t worked with womenswear before taking the helm of the fashion powerhouse and is now credited with transforming the brand and its worldwide record-breaking sales.