Sunnies for a different kind of crowd

By Zoe Walker

He says he's over the word, but Henry Holland's designs are seriously fun.

Henry Holland. Photo / Mariano Vivanco
Henry Holland. Photo / Mariano Vivanco

Some fun facts about London-based fashion designer Henry Holland: he used to be a fashion editor and worked at ultimate teen-dream magazine Smash Hits. He's BFFs with hip London girls like Pixie Geldof, Alexa Chung and Agyness Deyn. He loves the 90s, and played the 1994 bubblegum-pop hit Trouble by girl band Shampoo at his recent show. He co-hosted Rihanna's fashion show, Styled to Rock. And he's one of the kings of the modern fashion collaboration, producing everything from glow in the dark undies to chewing gum packets.

Holland officially launched his label, House of Holland, soon after releasing his "Fashion Groupies" T-shirts in 2006; ironic riffs on the 1980s slogan tee featuring designer names - one announcing "Cause Me Pain Hedi Slimane", another with "Do Me Daily, Christopher Bailey" in blaring neon print, even one for Karen Walker ("What a Corker, Karen Walker"). Since then, there has been all sorts of fun and quirky grunge, rave and pop culture-inspired collections, helping to cement the 29-year-old as one of the "mascots of young London fashion", as described by Style.com. And though Holland recently told the Independent that he's "over" people using the word fun when talking about his clothes - he wants to be taken seriously - his fashion is a jolly good time.

He recently released his first full eyewear collection, furthering the tongue-in-cheek signature of his fashion house - statement sunglasses with wiggly eyelashes, round frames featuring the phrase "Cross my Heart, Hope to Die, Stick a Needle in my Eye", and, Holland's favourite, the "Librarian" with detachable chain.

You have done eyewear collaborations before, with Linda Farrow and Le Specs. Why your own line now?
We had great success with Le Specs but it was a more commercial lower-priced collection so it was great to go a little wild in places with the range and be as creative as we wanted.

What is the collection's point of difference to your previous ranges - how is this House of Holland?
I feel like the collection really embodies our aesthetic and all facets of our design signature. We have translated some of our key prints and motifs into eyewear with the Raise the Roof and Peggy styles, as well as our attitude and irreverent sense of humour.

Your ultimate sunglass-wearing icon?
I think I would have to say Tom Cruise in Top Gun. Those aviators ... that face.

Australian rapper Iggy Azalea is the "face" of the first campaign - why did you choose her?
I think Iggy is hot in every sense. She has the perfect attitude to front a campaign for House of Holland and I'm a big fan of her music.

Cool girls like Iggy and your friends Pixie Geldof and Agyness Deyn are a big part of your brand. Is that a conscious thing?
With Pixie and Aggy, they have been my friends for years so them being part of my brand is a natural thing and I support them in their work just the same. With Iggy, I was a fan from afar and approached her because I felt like she was a perfect ambassador for the project. I think it is important for me to work with girls with big personalities and a bit of attitude as the designs have a big personality so it needs someone special to carry them off.

The 1990s are a big part of your brand too. Why the 90s?
The 90s will always have a special place in my work as it is the era when I was growing up as a teenager and when you have those fond memories of certain things that really resonate with a social group of a certain age. I love tapping into that and reminding people about some of the good, the bad and the ugly.

Your background is in media and magazines - would you ever go back to that? Or produce a House of Holland newspaper or magazine?
I never deliberately started House of Holland as a way out. House of Holland is of course now my main focus - pretty much 24 hours a day - but should things change in the future I would love to go back to writing.

There are House of Holland sunglasses, shoes, tights, undies, beauty products - but what would you like to produce next?
Houses? I could do with a free one. Or at least wholesale.

* For House of Holland Eyewear stockists in New Zealand ph 0508 EYEWEAR.

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