PI People: Janina Gruber Stylist @jangru
Please could you tell our community a bit about yourself?
Hello everyone, I am Janina from the North of Germany. I moved over to London 4 years ago it was love at first sight. I am a Fashion stylist, recently started with Illustration and work in a bakery called Margot and sell the most amazing Sourdough loafs and gingerbread dinosaurs on most weekends. I live in a beautiful old pattern grading factory which is now the home of me and my three lovely flatmates in Upper Holloway.

Could you tell us about your creative background? 
My family is very creative in general. My mum is very skilled in various hand crafts like knitting, cross-stitching and sewing, it is incredible, she recently knitted me the most beautiful and softest cashmere jumper I have ever felt and seen. My dad is a chef and cooks such delicious and creative dishes. And not to forget my grandma, I adore her. She is an artist and creative on so many levels. She’s is a sculptor, a painter, a medallist and a jeweller. I love nothing more than browsing through her studio with her and to listen to her when she’s telling me what she is working on at the moment. 

When did you start doing illustrations? 
I only started illustration 2 months ago. I felt very uncreative not being able to do any styling work over lockdown. The moment I start to illustrate it puts me into a flow state and I literally stop thinking, I just draw. Illustration really helps me through these weird uncertain times atm. 

Do you have a specific artistic style?
I am not quite sure if I do yet. Most important for me is that I just do and don’t think about it to much. It keeps my creative spirit free and that is most fun I find.

What inspires your illustrations? 
It goes from inspiring people, moods, feelings over to photographs, jewellery, nature and plants also fashion, all different sorts really. 

You are also a stylist; how did you get into this? 
I started of as an assistant working in costume for film and I got recommended by the person I helped out on a film and soon had my first editorial and campaign shoot I assisted on. I enjoyed it so much that I jumped into cold water shortly after and tried it my self and it all started from there.

Favourite part of being a stylist? 
Being able to work with so many different and inspiring people. To put together the looks and the first time you get to see the end results of a shoot, it is just magical and so rewarding.

Biggest achievement to date? 
I would say that clients and creatives contact me in the first place and want to work with me because they find my work inspiring. It just makes me beyond happy to be an inspiration to someone.

Are you more conscious about where your clothes are from? 
I am! I am against this fast fashion, everything new tribe and I find it toxic for the industry and the people who make our clothes under the most horrific conditions. 

I always had a thing for charity and vintage shops. I just love the fact that the pieces find you not the other way round. You’re attitude towards fashion is just a different one. You never go to a charity shop with an exact plan what to get compared to if you'd go to a store. I also really like the idea of giving old pieces a second chance.

What are your favourite sustainable fashion brands? 
I would say ‚Bode‘. It is a menswear label from NY by Emily Bode. 

She repurposes antique textiles for her collections using 19th century quilts and vintage French mattress fabrics for example. It’s all about taking something old and finding a use for it again. She also uses historical techniques like appliqué, quilting and patchwork, stitching and embroidery, which I find absolutely fascinating and beautiful.

Is sustainability important to you? 
Even though it is sometimes hard to believe when somebody who works in the fashion industry says that but it really is. I don’t follow trends when it comes to fashion styling, I never did. Luckily it is very appreciated by clients and creatives, because I always stick out from the masses a little and I am 100 percent true to my style and philosophy which is important to me.

I have an ongoing personal project called ‘much appreciated’ where I only allow myself to use second hand and vintage clothing and worn pieces I got from family and friends. It's all about breaking down the fashion consumption at least a little from time to time, giving older pieces a purpose and value even though the aren't new anymore, basically giving them a second chance like I said earlier.

Don’t get me wrong it is ok to buy pieces but we should all do it with more awareness of what we really want and need and what we can appreciate, justify, it doesn't help anyone if it's lying in the wardrobe, it's not fair on the piece itself nor on the person who is working so hard to make it. 

Are you environmentally conscious? 
I try the best that I can to ban plastic from my every day life as much as possible. The smallest changes can help the environment and it always starts with a person. That’s what I owe the planet I live on.

Do you see the fashion industry changing after lockdown? 
I only hope we adapt the slower pace into the fashion world lockdown spawned. That would a least be a start and shows that we learned from it.

Do you often buy vintage or second-hand pieces? 
Yes, if I decide to buy something it is mostly second-hand. I don’t go shopping often, it just doesn’t give me joy its more stressful than anything else for me. I guess it’s because I need to shop so many things for my styling work. What I really enjoy is to go through my wardrobe and upcycle older pieces I don’t wear anymore when I have some free time. I recently altered a black Spanish ruffle dress I only wore once or twice, it’s one of my favourite pieces this summer!

One piece of jewellery you never take off? 
It’s actually two hope that is alright. It’s hoop earrings my mum gave me one Christmas. One is silver and the other one gold. I am a bicolor fan. And my golden crest ring my grandma made for me for my 21st birthday. a family crest ring does have a sentimental value and it’s even more special to me because my granny made it for me.

Do you have a favourite antique or vintage piece? 
Yes, an antique tailor mannequin I got from my grandma a few years ago. It’s pretty old but was one of the first adjustable ones in size. It’s so precious to me.

What is your favourite PI London piece and why? 
It’s the ‘Dearest Ring’ for me.It’s also been the ring which was most fun to illustrate for you! I also love the story of the design behind it and the Victorians fascination with hidden messages. They used the first letters of certain gemstones to create colour schemed stone orders as a secret codes to write hidden messages like ‚Dearest’. The code Lapis-lazuli, Opal, Vermeil(old name for Garnet) and Emerald is one of my favourite colour codes it carries the hidden message LOVE. It’s absolutely beautiful.

Have you found lockdown an opportunity to be more creative? 
100 percent. Thinking back it was a very freeing time for my mind eventhoug you’ve been physically locked up. I tried several new things I wanted to try for years.

 Have you learnt any new skills during lockdown? 
Yes gardening and making ravioli from scratch for example. I am very proud the pasta was eve edible.

Lastly, what can we expect from you in 2020? 
To be more outgoing again and that I can carry all my creativity to the outside world again and that I inspire and get inspired which is most important to me.

Styling | @jangru
Illustrations | @jangru_illustration