It is easy to understand why a common reaction to the first few minutes of every House of Holland fashion show would be one that entailed disliking the ensuing collection. The almost hysterical reaction to the presence of celebrities (who take valuable seating space from bona fide journalists and buyers), and the litany of their names being chanted out loud by photographers intent on getting exclusive direct shots at individual cameras, would be enough to want to hate Henry Holland’s creations. However, once the first looks take to the runway, the riot of relativist superficiality that purposefully underpins Holland’s presentations (and ultimately defines the house’s identity) dissipates to engender a unique sartorial ingenuity that justifies, time and again, Henry Holland’s safe place amongst the freshest and most vigorous fashion designers currently working in London.
Titled ‘Homegirls’, House of Holland’s Spring/Summer 2014 women’s wear collection (presented during London Fashion week on 14 September 2013 on the top floor of a car park in Soho) was described by Henry Holland as having been inspired by his fond memories of Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 film ‘Romeo and Juliet’. However, the aesthetic anchored by arid Mexican landscapes juxtaposed against Latin-American catholic iconography and Chola gang imagery ended up being cleverly fused with classically feminine lines in a striking balance that made the collection a triumph.
‘Homegirls’ featured garments and accessories inspired by the realm of sportswear and urban styles (in the form of metallic bronze bomber jackets; baseball mini-dresses and caps; oversized enamel jewellery; metallic, snakeskin or hand-painted belts; and gun holster harnesses reinterpreted for more gentle purposes such as carrying mobile phones and keys) combined with girlish pieces such as full skirts cinched at the waist, cardigans, knit tube skirts and belted shirt dresses to conjure voluptuously feminine silhouettes that reminded those favoured by women during the late 1940s and early 50s. Similarly, relaxed textures and fabrics such as heavy chino cotton, denim and hand-painted leather were lifted with applications of lace and iridescent crystal embellishments, and served to highlight the very sophisticated silk woven jacquards. The colour palette and choice of prints mirrored this amalgamation of opposites by combining delicate whites, light pinks, blues and conventional checks and stripes with digitally treated florals, tattoo-like hearts crossed with daggers, metallics, snakeskin prints and irregularly patterned ginghams.
On the surface, the collection might have seemed a mere vapid gathering of clothes and accessories inspired by a gang-torn fictional existence where fashion is relegated to second stage. However, and on a closer look, Henry Holland’s ‘Homegirls’ re-enacted an accomplished celebration of femininity through a clever and gleeful reinterpretation of conventional sartorial mores.