I’m a big Henry Holland fan. And not just because we have the same surname. Known for his bold use of colour, playful prints and unmistakable quiff, the man behind the UK brand House of Holland is a true fashion force. Although House of Holland hasn’t yet (if you’re reading this Henry, note the hopeful ‘yet’) launched in South Africa, we have Mr Price to thank for bringing him back to SA for another collaboration.
On his recent visit to Cape Town to launch the range, I had the chance to chat to the print master about creating dresses inspired by some of his famous friends (including Agyness Deyn, Rihanna, Rita Ora and Alexa Chung – yes, those are his friends!), his work for the Red Cap Foundation and the five things he can’t live without.
We’re really excited to have you back in South Africa. Can you tell us a bit more about why you’re here?
Henry Holland: I loved working with Mr Price last time as well as seeing the Red Cap Foundation and the work that they do. It was so inspiring, so we wanted to come back and raise double the amount of money this year. We went to one of the schools last week to see the difference that the money [we raised] had made since last time, and it was just amazing.
What is your current collaboration with Mr Price about?
We had a quick brainstorm with the Mr Price ladies in London about what our next project would be and they wanted to do something around dresses, so we worked together in coming up with a concept. I wanted to do something similar to what we did with the T-shirts where we did five different T-shirts that could fit various people’s personal style. With the dresses we wanted to create a similar thing again – a collection of dresses that are all very different and would appeal to a broad range of Mr Price customers.
Tell us a bit more about the women who you created these dresses around (Rihanna, Iggy Azalea, Poppy Delevingne, Pixie Geldof, Agyness Deyn, Katy Perry, Rita Ora, Alexa Chung and Kelly Osbourne)
It’s more like the dresses are inspired by the women and their personalities. I wanted to create pieces that had a bit of their personality in them, which is what we do with House of Holland. It’s all about the attitude and personality which is a common thread that runs through. By choosing a few different women who all have different personalities I was able to reflect those personalities and create an eclectic range of dresses that are different but also work together. They’re all women I know quite well, or have worked with and I love their public personas and crazy personalities.
Because as outsiders – they all do seem like bold women with such attitude...
Yes, that’s why they were all easy choices. It’s really nerve-wrecking going to someone and saying: “this is a dress I think represents your style”. So, it’s more about injecting elements of their style and personality into the dress, rather than trying to create something that I think they would wear.
That’s quite a fun project…
It really was. Because it was a collaboration with Mr Price, we took some of the silhouettes and shapes which have been bestsellers from our previous collections (House of Holland) and then included what was important from Mr Price in terms of a trend perspective. Because the South African market is very different [to the UK], at the end of the day we wanted to create an amazing collection and sell our pieces, so we needed to make sure it was the right thing for the customer. Once we worked out the silhouettes, we then married those elements to the different women.
How much were Pixie [Geldof] and Kelly [Osbourne] involved in the process?
I’ve worked with both of them before many times and we’ve known each other as friends for years. It was great to introduce them to Mr Price and the Red Cap Foundation and show them what a difference their presence on the shoot. They really got into the project and the whole idea behind it. It wasn’t a huge collaboration in terms of artistic direction, they just modelled the collection – so they just had to look good in a dress [laughs].
Tell us a little bit more about how this will benefit the Red Cap Foundation
R10 of every dress will go to the foundation. Last time we raised half a million with the T-shirts and this time we’re hoping for the big R1 million.
We’re also really excited to have House of Holland nails launch in SA
Yeah, they’re doing so well. We’ve got 2500 stores [worldwide] stocking them. Because I’m not a nail technician or nail designer, you approach it from a completely different perspective and end up creating something that is actually really new and interesting to people.
You’ve grown your brand really quickly…
I guess we have but people think it’s much bigger than it is. We have eight members of staff in-house so we’re not as big as people think. We work with lots of outside partners so there are many other people who help make and grow the brand.
You’ve become so well-known for your bold and playful prints, what tips can you give our GLAM readers on mixing and matching patterns?
Just try it. You never know what something is going to look like unless you give it a go. I’m a big fan of matching prints and I get frustrated when you see people and you tell them to try it and they’re like “oh, no I can’t”. It’s like, why not? You’re only trying it. The whole thing with fashion is experimenting and playing around with it. You’re supposed to make a few mistakes along the way – that’s the whole fun of it.
What are the five things you can’t live without?
My hair straighteners, my hair dryer, my hair wax, my boyfriend and a good pair of skinny jeans. As a boy that’s kind of a staple.
If you could dress anyone, who would it be?
It changes all the time. I used to say Queen – that would be amazing, but petrifying! I’ve been so lucky in dressing so many women, but Brooke Candy (American rapper) is my current favourite obsession.
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to break into the fashion industry?
Be individual and authentic. Try and create something that is new and different and then be really true to that vision. I think it’s very important to remember that fashion is subjective. One person’s favourite designer will be someone else’s worst. And you have to remember that when you’re working in the industry you’re not creating fashion for everybody, it’s for your market and your niche. If you create something that is new interesting then it will breakthrough and it will get the attention that it deserves.
Mary Holland is the online editor for GLAMOUR.co.za