This month’s instalment of Hook: The Archives chronicles the first interview I ever wrote. And I feel so lucky to be able to say it was with Henry Holland, the designer of House of Holland. I was in awe to say the least when I was able to meet Holland back in 2013 for this interview, but never did I imagine that in the following years I’d go on to hang-out backstage at some of his shows and that some of my most memorable fashion memories would be because of his whimsical, bubbly work. I mean, I did get to meet my childhood icon Nicola Roberts of Girls Aloud thanks to Henry…
Obviously this isn't my best writing (I was seventeen AND had never written an interview before) but I feel proud to share this work with you. Proud to be able to show what kind of work I started out doing and how far I’ve come since. That is the purpose of this series more than anything. Much of the interview was spent reminiscing Henry’s beginning - the fact that five years on, he’s gone on to achieve even more wondrous accomplishments just shows what is possible and how much things can escalate in just half a decade. Keep the faith, keep moving and definitely keep reading…
In conversation with Henry Holland
Fashion Festival 19/10/2013
It only seems like yesterday we were all ‘showing Kate Moss who’s boss’ and ‘flicking our beans for Agyness Deyn’ but as an accelerated seven years has lured by, House of Holland no longer earns it’s recognition through the idiosyncratic slogans inspired by the biggest names of the industry...they recognise him.
I sit down with Laura Weir and Henry Holland on a Saturday afternoon at Fashion Festival 2013 to reminisce how Henry started his own line and how it’s expanded with his current affairs today.
Before Henry joins us, we are shown a video of House of Holland’s first collection down the runway which consisted of ridiculously catchy slogans that humour us to the likes of Giles Deacon and Coca Rocha. A soundtrack to Girls Aloud’s ‘Something Kinda Oooh’ mixed with the non-traditional runway style insists Henry Holland was just a big kid having a whale of a time.
Without further-ado, Henry Holland appears to give us an insight into what his life was like before his first collection dropped. Out of sync to most other fashion designers who always knew their career aspirations or were blood born into the role of a high fashion house, Holland studied journalism. Outside of his job for Bliss Magazine Henry would always buy a load of slogan t-shirts, which was where it all began. After “pissing about with mates” creating these one-of-a-kind slogan t-shirts, people caught on.
He explains that he was sitting in a meeting with the Editor of Bliss when he got a call from American Vogue. He cracks out a hilarious little laugh before explaining that the meeting he was currently in was probably the biggest of his career yet, but heard the words ‘American Vogue’ and without hesitation got up and left the meeting without excusing himself and there was no looking back.
Henry continues the interview by spreading advice to young, blossoming designers and shows not only is he a full of life character who turns up with poppy seeds stuck in his teeth from the fruity cake assortments backstage, but also offers a speech of solitude on how to survive in the world of fashion. He goes on to tell us how his favourite runway show was tartan: his first show away from Fashion East. He says that doing a runway show is the most petrifying experience but also the most exciting thing. When he’s had Hilary Alexander literally chant his name on the side of the catwalk (yes that really happened) you can never anticipate how anything will go on the day, he explains.
After spending only half an hour with House of Holland’s frontman, I just want to hear more and more. To see a fashion designer so successful, yet so down to earth and so god damn funny - I just want to be his best friend! From explaining his highs and lows with the label to being wittingly apologetic for fortuitously saying the word “shitty” to his current audience: “sorry, how old are you? Oh okay…”
He goes on to graciously explain that he has to be enjoying himself and stimulated with fun to achieve the best collections and that “the best concepts come from pissing around.”
Before departing us with a video from his SS14 collection debut at London Fashion Week, we reminisce on how much House of Holland has developed since its early days of slogan t-shirts. Henry laughs as he approaches the topic of how he didn't have a single clue how to actually make clothes and had to get his friend to teach him how to work a sewing machine. “I was just making t-shirts and then making them longer to turn into dresses,” he says, unaware of the actual delicacy of textiles. This was partly one of the reasons he teamed up with labels such as Kickers and Levi’s: to expand the creativity and explore different areas of fashion that would work with his clothes. Holland then had jeans and shoes to go along with his t-shirts.
As he plays us the runway video to his latest collection, you can’t even begin to understand how uniquely different and elegant his designs have become. With Holland’s obvious favourite colours of purples and greens, there are still typical Henry elements that completely illustrate his quirky personality. Especially when you have M.I.A’s ‘Bring the Noize’ leading the models down the runway.
On the note of mine and Holland’s departure, I leave Fashion Festival completely in awe with the whole afternoon. Whilst Henry goes on to face another fashion milestone in securing the opening of the very first House of Holland store which will be open in the next couple of days, I go on understandably a little more in love with the man behind one of my favourite fashion houses.