Henry Holland tells The Resident about his new adventure into interior design, dressing celebrity friends like model Agyness Deyn and what he loves about the London fashion scene…
Henry Holland burst onto the fashion scene in the early Noughties with his fresh take on slogan T-shirts. A bold businessman famed for collaborating with high-profile celebrities since launching his label House of Holland in 2008, it’s refreshing to discover that it all continues to boil down to Holland’s pure, unadulterated love of fashion and colour – and the creativity that oozes from every pore in London.
‘I love fashion and I love buying it and wearing it as much as I do making it,’ he enthuses in his distinguishable Mancunian accent. ‘I try to give the clothes their own personality so that people can absorb the traits of being playful, and fun, and bold – which are all elements of our brand DNA – when they wear them. I want them to be bright and humorous.’
Despite being very much a fixture on the catwalks internationally, and having dressed friends including model Agyness Deyn, Nicola Roberts of Girls Aloud, and other songstresses such as MIA, Iggy Azalea and Katy B, he gets more satisfaction from seeing his designs out and about on the street.
‘It’s so exciting to see someone at the bus stop wearing something that you’ve made, and they’ve incorporated it into their own style in a certain way,’ he insists.
It’s this outlook that led him to collaborate early on in his career with Levi Strauss & Co, and then with Debenhams in his hugely successful H by Henry Holland range, which aimed to make his clothes more accessible and continues to do so today. Almost 10 years on, he’s still going at it all guns blazing, and his first forays into homeware and interior design in collaboration with Habitat have also garnered plenty of positive attention.
The latest interiors collection draws from his SS17 ready-to-wear collection, titled Free to Roam. It’s a fun mix of florals and ginghams, with plenty of frills and flounce, inspired by Roma gypsies, and in particular the work of Josef Koudelka, who depicted the traveller communities of the former Eastern Bloc (such as Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania) in his street photography. There’s crop tops, flares, floor length maxi dresses and off-the-shoulder designs – and it’s all so sensationally covetable.
‘We mixed lots of different prints with the more traditional florals and ginghams using different patch working techniques,’ he explains. ‘We wanted to be brave with the shapes and silhouettes. The clothes translate well into our interiors, which I think are for people with similar personality traits to those who wear our clothes.
We wanted to be brave with the shapes and silhouettes. The clothes translate well into our interiors, which I think are for people with similar personality traits to those who wear our clothes
‘They’re for someone who is quite confident and adventurous, and knows what they like, or someone who just wants to be playful and inject a bit of colour and fun into either their wardrobe or into their home.’
To bring the collection to life, earlier this year he embarked on an ingenious month-long residency at The Hoxton hotel, which meant you could even book to stay at the ‘Henry’ room for a night or two.
‘It’s more focussed around the bedroom, with bedding and armchairs, rugs and throws. We wanted to showcase it in more of a realistic environment, so people could interact with it outside of the store,’ he explains. ‘I’d got to know the hotel at an event I did there in conversation with Nick Grimshaw as part of the Hoxtown Fashion Series, and it just felt like the right fit.’
Holland is clearly not afraid of teaming up, and his creation marking ice-cream company Magnum’s 25th birthday following in the footsteps of Karl Lagerfeld was another creative and commercial coup – his 1960s style dress mimicked cracked chocolate with layers of fabric.
Unsurprisingly, he’s proud of what he’s achieved so far. ‘I’ve had such an amazing time, but every season the shows really punctuate it. They’re always really exciting stopgaps where you take stock and think, “wow”. One of the things I’m most proud of is that we’re here ten years later. We’ve managed to achieve so much in that time, and I’ll be ecstatic if we’re still here again in another ten and working just as hard to build the brand in different areas, all around the world.’
When you go to other fashion capitals like Paris, Milan and New York, the cities themselves have their own certain style and look and feel, whereas London is very hard to pinpoint because there’s such an individual approach
Not one for following the conventional route, the designer started out at the London College of Communication, and began his career working for teenage magazines such as Smash Hits! and Bliss. For him, part of London’s appeal as a fashion hub is its artistic institutions.
‘We have some of the best in the world – Central Saint Martins, the Royal Academy… It creates an amazing environment, and I think in the time since I’ve been showing at London Fashion Week, London has gone from being the forgotten cousin to being the most important on the calendar.
‘When you go to other fashion capitals like Paris, Milan and New York, the cities themselves have their own certain style and look and feel, whereas London is very hard to pinpoint because there’s such an individual approach.’
When he’s not scheming, you’ll find him at The Empress pub at Victoria Park, or the E5 Bakehouse in London Fields, while Bistrotheque is his favourite restaurant.