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The role of function for fashion and art: In conversation with Creative Director Jorg Rozier

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Credits: MEOMARI

Jorg Rozier is a creative head specialised in photography and cinematography, who has worked with a plethora of fashion brands and publications. His works have been featured, among others, in Harper’s Bazaar, ELLE and Schoen Magazine since he started his career in early 2015. During his time in the visual industry, which he is still pursuing actively these days, he has developed a sharp eye for how storytelling impacts the relevancy and authenticity of brands. Driven by a fascination of seeing ideas come to life and growing into tangible value, he ventured out into roles in which creativity and strategy meet. As such, he founded the art hub Yomooka, an art gallery and creative agency. He is further applying his passions in his role as the Creative Director of MEOMARI, a brand focusing on luxury pet wear. In this interview with FashionUnited, the Leiden-based creative shares his vision on the role of function for fashion and art and how working as a visual artist has impacted his perspective on storytelling.

Jorg Rozier Credits: MEOMARI

How would you define functional fashion and art in your own words?

Jorg Rozier: In the world of creativity, both fashion and art have something important in common: They're ways for people to express themselves. They allow us to show who we want to be, where we fit in, and what truly matters to us at a deeper level. It gives us understanding of who we are. This is maybe a more philosophical way of looking at it, but I think it is very important to understand this, because only out of this understanding it finds a way to become something we can see, feel or experience. What I find fascinating is how fashion and art can blend seamlessly into our daily lives, not just as something that looks good, but also as something that serves a practical purpose. A great example would be for example the Mondriaan chair that also was exhibited in a museum.

How has your work as a visual artist and your experience at agencies shaped your vision of functional fashion and art?

Jorg Rozier: Over the years, I've had the privilege of producing and shooting campaigns for numerous international brands. When you work on a string of campaigns, only specific ones leave a lasting impression. What I've come to realize is that there's a distinct difference between merely showcasing a new collection and creating a campaign built around a theme with a compelling story. To me, the story is just as vital as the visuals themselves because it's the narrative that gives an enduring quality to the work. The same principle applies to art; a mere image, no matter how aesthetically pleasing, doesn't necessarily make it significant. It's the story behind it that imbues it with meaning and places it within a context that adds value to the world around it. Significant work at least has a function of telling stories.

Fashion in particular is sometimes understood as something redundant. How do you evaluate the importance of function and practicality for the relevance of fashion these days?

Jorg Rozier: In my view, anything loses its relevance when it serves no purpose for an extended period. From a sales perspective, we can argue that the monthly turnover of collections serves the purpose of generating revenue and fostering growth. However, what I find crucial in today's context is to move beyond the fleeting trends that capture the moment and return to the fundamental purpose of fashion. In essence, fashion should enable individuals to dress well for their social surroundings while prioritizing comfort. Therefore, I always aim for fashion and art that have the potential to endure the test of time. A good example would be the Barcelona chair - the design by Mies van der Rohe was made in 1929 and still upon this day people think it is a modern chair. In the realm of fashion, functionality implies two key aspects: The ability to look stylish in any situation and the capacity for an item to maintain its style over an extended period.

At MEOMARI, we are committed to achieving this by revisiting the core principles of form and infusing functionality through designs that are durable and sustainable while standing the test of time. Important for all of our designs are the comfort of wearing the product for the dog. Outstanding design is empty when it has no value without the comfort of the dog.

Fashion photography often re-contextualizes the items in a way that is estranged from day-to-day life. How do you portray the functional essence of an item while catering to abstract visual storytelling?

Jorg Rozier: The recontextualization of images mainly involves highlighting subjects that are significant to specific topics important to the target audience. In the world of art, we often see familiar things from everyday life presented on a larger scale or using different materials. This concept holds true in fashion photography as well.

When creating campaigns, we take a piece of what we believe in, amplify it, and place it within a visual context that resonates with our clients. It's not just about deciding what to create but also about achieving the perfect blend of photography, makeup, hair, styling, location, casting, and retouching. These elements work together to craft a new reality that we aim to visualize. Through strategic lighting techniques, we can emphasize the quality of materials and provide structure and depth to the products featured in the images. The true value of the product becomes apparent when viewed within the complete context of the picture, where all these elements come together seamlessly.

The execution of a brand identity is often limited in the process, by budgets and availability or by the technicalities of the product. How do you compromise your vision of a brand with a realistic implementation?

Jorg Rozier: Budget and time constraints are challenges that every creator faces. However, I believe that these limitations don't have to compromise the quality of the final product. Sometimes, all it takes is a bit of creativity to find solutions.

In my view, what matters more than the budget is the trust of our clients and the collaboration with our teams. Often, brands opt for safe choices to minimize the risk of alienating existing clients. However, playing it too safe can result in generic campaigns. While they may look good, they fail to make a distinctive statement.

At MEOMARI, our team is always open to new ideas. When we conceptualize campaigns that align with our brand identity, we collaborate with individuals who are genuinely passionate about their craft. Through open dialogue and by giving everyone the opportunity to contribute their input and opinions, we harness a wealth of creative strength.

Next to your visual work, you are the creative director of luxury pet wear brand MEOMARI. How does this brand reconcile fashion and functionality?

Jorg Rozier: When you take a general look at the pet industry, it's often filled with adorable and amusing content, all exuding positivity. I get that, but it doesn't really capture the story of how a pet's style complements the owner's lifestyle.

Here at MEOMARI, we noticed a gap between the fashion and lifestyle values we hold dear and the accessories that are currently offered for pets. This observation led us to rethink the way we define luxury for our furry companions. Therefor we did not only look at the aesthetics and style, but comfort for the dog was the main priority. We carefully plan our designs with the dog's comfort in mind. By giving our harness a body-hugging shape, we've reduced any discomfort or friction for the dog while wearing it.

Dog harness design Credits: MEOMARI

What is your opinion on luxury being an enabler of quality and thus a decisive factor for the functional value of an item, especially at MEOMARI?

Jorg Rozier: We're not just changing the way we view the pet industry from a lifestyle perspective, but we're also incorporating materials that aren't typically used in this industry, like saffiano leather. This type of leather is known for its durability, making our products highly functional while adding an elegant touch. We’re also taking it a step further by offering collars and leashes entirely made of brass and coated with ruthenium and gold. These products can be considered functional jewelry which has never been done in this industry.

Through our focus on durable materials and minimalist designs, we provide our customers with products that endure both in terms of style and functionality over time.

Read more about MEOMARI on their website