Cecily chats to Joanna, founder and director of the unique members’ club, Marguerite, which she founded in her living room in 2015. The club is a network of savvy and influential women working in the arts, all with a strong desire to support each other in their climb to the top. Through a series of inspiring, exclusive-feeling and most importantly fun events, Marguerite offers women the opportunity to meet, share ideas and build their careers in the art world. Joanna talks about Art world dressing, and how her approach to dressing has changed since founding Marguerite.
CM: What does “women in work” conjure for you?
Joanna: Traditionally, the term “women in work” conjures an idea of women in skirt suits - sat behind huge 80s computers with white teeth and headsets. Of course, that idea is hugely outdated now - even my best friend who work in finance isn’t required to wear a skirt suit!
I love the fact that there is a real breadth in what “women in work” means now: whether it be an Uber driver behind the wheel of her Prius, an influencer sat in her PJs posting an ad on Instagram, a prime minister giving her key note speech or a new mother breastfeeding her baby on the set of the TV talk show she’s on.
CM: What do you think dressing in the art world means?
Joannna: Art and fashion are so intertwined that a lot of emphasis is put on the way you dress in the art world. Saying that, the exact forms this can take can differ massively. Whilst you might expect to find a successful young artist in a paint-smattered Le Labourer French work jacket and wide-legged YMC jeans, a collector might be dressed in Gucci loafers (flat, for marching up and down the aisles of art fairs), huge Celine sunglasses, a touch of botox and a bouncy blow dry. Both looks are totally different yet instantly recognisable.
I worked in the VIP departments at Frieze Art Fair and Photo London for 7 years before launching Marguerite. There, I was in very client-facing roles and would often be meeting wealthy collectors, and notable museum directors so would be expected to be smartly dressed. I had my nose pierced with a small stud in my early twenties and was devastated when my boss suggested I take it out because the people I was meeting might look down on me for it! Whilst that very much would not have been the case, I love the fact that now that I have my own company, I can make my own rules about how I look.
CM: Do you view what you wear as part of creative expression?
Joanna: Absolutely. The clothes and accessories you choose to adorn your body with are the first thing people come into contact with when they meet you. I think this applies especially in the art world. Being such a visual industry, I think that people use the way they dress to express who they are even more than they might do in other industries.
CM: Do you think that you express yourself in what you wear?
Joanna: Yes. My style has become much more simple and laid back as I’ve grown older. The way I dress now echoes what Marguerite aims to do: to make the art world more accessible. You don’t need to be smartly dressed or take your nose stud out to come to any of our events! Anything goes.
CM: Do you think that your approach to dressing has changed as a result?
Joanna: Absolutely, you almost wouldn’t recognise how I was then and now! I had a smart sort of ’1940s’ vibe going on in my 20s. Lots of high waisted skirts and heels even when I wasn’t meeting clients. Now, I love wearing jeans and a t shirt and not bothering to wear any make up when I’m getting my head down in the office all day - then maybe putting on a dress with trainers or a simple white COS shirt and wide black jeans when we have a Marguerite event! The only thing that’s remained from my former life is the lipstick - I love a postbox red lip!My wardrobe is also a lot more modular these days - a lot of it goes together in a way that makes it much easier to get ready in the morning. This has made my life so much easier now that I have the million other things to think about that running a company brings!