Condé Nast College graduate Nellie Eden speaks about her role as a creative director and consultant at the latest Vogue Education Presents industry speaker event. MA Fashion Journalism student, Sanya Khurana reports…
Nellie Eden captivated the students in an insightful conversation with MA Fashion Journalism student Charlotte Bendkowski. She described the evolution of her career, with having to frequently develop her roles, inadvertently resetting the beauty industry. She discussed her previous projects, imparting useful tips to help students navigate their own career journeys in the future.
Nellie Eden is currently Beauty Editor at Large at the Face, freelance Creative Director and Founder of Eden Creative, which specialises in content creation and direction for beauty and fashion brands. She has over 10 years of experience in the creative industries, has worked as a creative lead with renowned brands including Marc Jacobs, Isamaya Ffrench, Selfridges, Byredo, Nike, Estée Lauder, Nike and Martine, and has previously also worked as the Editor of Dazed Beauty.
A Nod to CNC
Having graduated from the Vogue Diploma Course, Eden began with a nod to CNC. With a BA in English Language and Literature from Sussex University, she never thought she would end up studying at fashion school.
“If you told me at 18 or 19 I’d go and do something like this, I wouldn’t believe you,” Eden said. “But today I’m very proud to be part of the CNC alumni and very proud of the relationships I’ve managed to sustain.”
She found that the curriculum was “very immersive, very 360” and that many of the things she learnt at CNC, including fashion history, still apply to her job today.
“People were so used to beauty imagery looking really nice, and I think Dazed Beauty was really deconstructive for me because I had to really sit down and think about what makes an image beautiful.”
Nellie Eden on Dazed Beauty
During her tenure as the Editor of Dazed Beauty, Eden’s role was pivotal in creating space for a new, more inclusive format of beauty which does not conform to the traditional norms.
“People were so used to beauty imagery looking really nice, and I think Dazed Beauty was really deconstructive for me because I had to really sit down and think about what makes an image beautiful,” Eden said. “Now people often hire me because they want to talk about beauty in a different way.”
To elaborate on this, she shared some of the projects she worked on during her time at Dazed Beauty, her favourite one being the collaboration with Byredo, where she worked as a creative consultant for the make-up beauty launch across editorial, social media, campaign and video content.
The other exciting projects she spoke about included a collaboration with Gucci Beauty, where she worked on the concept and casting to celebrate the one year anniversary of Gucci’s three Bloom fragrances, a collaboration with SS24’s artistic favourite– FKA Twigs, and a collaboration with Selfridges where she worked on the creative direction and strategy for a 6 week long residency to create an experiential pop-up.
On Print Magazines in the Era of Digital Revolution
While Eden acknowledged that the industry of print magazines is going through a difficult time right now, she also argued that the legacies of print magazines are so great that people will always continue to be keen to buy them and that there is still a big readership. In fact, she finds them extremely useful and says that whenever she is stuck with an idea, looking through books or print magazines helps revive her creativity.
“We need archives, we need references, we need touch points,” Eden said. “I don’t think people are going to stop wanting to shop for print magazines, they’re collectibles.”
She urged everyone to find the writers and titles they like, and to follow and support them.
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Nellie Eden’s Top Tips…
- Mastering the art of writing a pitch: According to Eden’s golden rule, don’t send more than two ideas at once. Include a short paragraph with all the important information– a clear topic or question, the experts, the rationale, the interviewees. Make it clear, strong and concise, because people want a “great, tight pitch they can read on their phone in the Uber on the way home.” And, of course, have someone proofread it before sending it out.
- Think about the audience: Eden emphasised the importance of always asking why something is culturally pertinent and why people should care. Asking how something affects people, she says, is foundational to any kind of project in the industry.
- Be open to unexpected things: Eden wasn’t feeling as inspired by the written word as she was by visual language. It took her a while to realise that she was a much better editor than she was a writer, and that it was important for her to pivot to that role. Similarly, she didn’t want to write or edit about beauty, but she decided to give it a chance and completely immerse herself in it. Moral of the story– even if you think you know and you feel comfortable where you are, be open to embracing unexpected changes and opportunities.
- Put yourself out there: “Saying yes to things” and “getting face time with people,” is the most important and valuable thing according to Eden. For instance, if someone wants to be in a role similar to hers, she feels that it is crucial for them to be on set and educate themselves about the processes. “Make friends with photographers, understand a little bit of everybody’s craft, understand what lighting they like, what lighting they don’t, what retouch they like, what retouch they don’t.”
- Be interested, be a fan: Having a passion for the work you are doing and being a “fan” is very infectious and can greatly increase your chances of being hired and being successful in the industry. “It’s so wonderful to work with people who have hobbies and interests, you end up finishing each other’s sentences,” she said.
- Networking and the “night shift”: Networking with classmates and friends outside of the classroom and going clubbing together is what Eden calls “the night shift.” “Stay close to those people,” she says. She emphasises that these are the people who will be getting out into the same industry as you, and many people who she used to party with are now brand designers and they directly message her instead of emailing her for collaborations.
By Sanya Khurana, MA Fashion Journalism student
Images by Annelee Kiliddjian, MA Creative Direction for Fashion Media student, edited by Anne Gale, MA Fashion Styling student and Ella Cranfield, BA (Hons) Fashion Communication & Industry Practice student