British designers are not afraid to tackle serious issues both with their clothes, as well as their presentations. Henry Holland managed to do both this afternoon with an Autumn/Winter collection that directly challenges the very concept we’ve come to know as “fast” fashion with an assembly-line styled show that went to the extreme: He put models on a conveyor belt. Models did walk a bit, from one conveyor to the next, but they did a marvelous job of pretending to be mannequins, not flinching or moving as they passed by an audience both astonished and thrilled. This is the sort of excitement we expect from House of Holland and Hank certainly didn’t disappoint on any level.
First, I suppose we should talk about the clothes. Here, Hank does a number of things very well. His sense of styling is a bit exaggerated but it works especially well in this collection, starting with a number of red/pink/black combinations with varying sizes of hounds tooth that eventually evolve into diagonal stripes. As the stripes grow larger, they shift to the black and yellow danger stripes like those edging the conveyors. Do we get the message? “Fast” fashion is dangerous and threatens the creativity and innovation of the entire industry.
Layering is a natural part of the autumn/winter season, but Holland makes it an art form by varying the sizes and lengths of the different pieces. We have quilted tops cropped just below the bust. Large-checked plaids in blue that are red when reversed. Tulle peeks out from surprising places, tassels show up where they’re not expected, and symmetry jumps ship and goes on vacation by the time we’re ten looks into the show. Black scarves, mourning craftsmanship and creativity, bind the looks together and heavy shoes resembling work boots remind one of the plight of labor.
As he moves into the final pieces, the stripes are extremely broad across colored feathers over the tightest of colored leggings. The final red/white piece looks very much like a Dr. Suess character and something tells me that reference is not accidental. Fast fashion is nonsense.
If the collection sounds a bit preachy, it certainly wasn’t presented nor viewed that way. Set against a fast-pumping soundtrack, the audience took hold of the uniqueness of the show and made it quite fun, dancing in their seats and screaming at the models as they passed as though they were rock stars. The whole show was a tremendous amount of fun while delivering a very strong message.
Henry Holland wins again.