To celebrate the launch of his second collaboration with Habitat, Henry Holland tells Luxury London about shopping for antiques, his S/S17 collection and why fashion faux pas are a good thing
As business meetings go, the dance floor at a friend’s post-nuptial knees-up isn’t the most ideal of locations – but for Henry Holland, the fashion designer who shot to fame with his rhyming slogan tees, it was the perfect moment in which to arrange a collaboration. While shimmying at a former employee’s wedding reception, Holland bumped into the PR for Habitat and the pair got talking.
The result was a jazzy collection of home furnishings, a clash of colour, print and texture themed around the living room, with zany palm print sofas and leopard print cushions in a riot of orange, blue and pink shades. Launched in 2016, the same year that Holland’s fashion label, House of Holland, was marking a decade in business, it was perfect timing for the designer, who felt that the two brands had “good synergy”.
Rewind 10 years and Holland was a budding journalist, working as a fashion editor for the likes of Bliss and Smash Hits (both now discontinued), where he would write features teaching teenagers how to “mum-proof” their outfits. “We were basically telling them how to get their short skirts and low-cut tops past their parents,” he laughs when I speak to him ahead of the launch of his second collection with Habitat.
He began his foray into the fashion world by making joke T-shirts about the industry for friends and reached stardom when Gareth Pugh wore one emblazoned with “Get yer freak on, Giles Deacon” to his 2006 London Fashion Week show. Now fondly known in the industry as the Fashion Groupies T-shirts, Holland reintroduced them last year in honour of his label’s 10th anniversary, this time with gags for a new generation of style stars, including “I’m yours for a tenner Kendall Jenner” and “Let’s breed Bella Hadid”.
His second collection with Habitat makes a nod to his roots with slogans “Free to Roam” and “Check Me Out” printed onto floral and gingham cushions. The new line is available from March, a selection of bubblegum pink furniture, duvet sets and soft furnishings inspired by Josef Koudelka’s photography, with designs that mirror Holland’s S/S17 fashion collection. Ahead of the launch, he discusses the new range, decorating his own home and his favourite design hotspots in London.
For my second collection with Habitat we decided to focus on a different room. With the first range, we were thinking more about the living room, but this time we’re working around the bedroom. The collection is similar to my S/S17 womenswear range, which was inspired by traveller communities, with different floral and gingham prints.
Designing for the interiors collection has been exciting because I get to use different techniques and work on new products. I get really proud when I see House of Holland’s DNA being interpreted into lots of different product categories such as sofas and bedding. My favourite piece from the collection is a hand-cut and tufted rug made in India. They were able to cut the pile at different heights to create this amazing 3D effect. It was a big learning curve for me, but I had the amazing team at Habitat to help me navigate all of the differences between clothing and homeware.
I tend to buy a lot of antiques. My mum is an antiques dealer, so she is always searching for things and suggesting pieces that I might like. I like the idea of finding something that’s a bit unique. Alfies Antique Market in Marylebone is really nice, but it’s quite expensive. I go to Criterion, the auction house on Essex Road, quite a lot, and there’s some good stuff on Brick Lane and Camden Passage.
The best antique I’ve found is a haberdashery cupboard. There’s a guy at Columbia Road Flower Market who sells a lot of industrial-style furniture with reconditioned metalwork. I got a great cupboard from him a few years ago that’s still in my house.
"I love the minimalist trend, but I just couldn’t live with it"
My partner and I have kept the canvas quite plain in our home. The floors are wooden and the walls are white, and we’ve injected colour and personality through different prints and soft furnishings. I love the minimalist trend, but I just couldn’t live with it. I’m too messy and my brain is too eclectic and noisy to be confined to keeping something like that up.
For as long as I can remember, fashion is something I’ve loved. I love the way it can change how you feel; it’s a way of expressing who you are and how you’re feeling on a certain day, which suits my personality. I’m a bit all over the place.
If you’ve never had any fashion faux pas then you’ve never had any fashion triumphs either. You have to get it wrong a few times to get it right. I think it’s important to push yourself and wear things that are a bit different; it’s quite fun to look back on.
I think there’s a real level of respect for all fashion designers because everyone understands the difficulties [of the industry] and how tough it is. I love a lot of the British designers, such as Christopher Kane, Erdem, Preen and Roksanda. I wear a lot of James Long and a bit of Agi & Sam, too.
It’s quite an exciting time for the fashion industry because so many people are exploring different ways of doing things. We’re no longer feeling confined by the old world order and everyone’s feeling a lot more open to trying new ways of doing things.
"I love the characterisation of fashion and the way that you can tell so much about a person just by what they wear"
A lot of my inspiration comes from the need to tell a certain story. I often get inspiration from films or even TV shows because it’s about telling the stories of the characters, and I love the characterisation of fashion and the way that you can tell so much about a person just by what they wear.
Travel is often a real inspiration, too. Last summer I went on a road trip through middle America, which inspired quite a lot of my A/W17 collection. It’s a bit of a love letter to American culture and is a riot of colour and pattern.
We did our A/W17 show at the Tate Modern so I’d have to say that that’s probably my favourite gallery. It’s the one I go to the most, and we went to see the new extension recently. I haven’t yet been to Tate Britain’s David Hockney exhibition, but I’m desperate to get there. So many people I know have been and said it’s amazing.
I really like photography and I’m a big fan of Martin Parr. I’ve got a few of his prints in my house. I just like the Britishness that he can capture in his images. We actually worked with him last year on our menswear collection, which was really fun.
We have done a takeover of a room at The Hoxton, Holborn. As the second collection with Habitat is more focused on the bedroom, we thought that a good way to get people to interact with the pieces would be to create this fully immersive environment where they can go and live amongst the collection and experience it first-hand. It means that people can see the pieces in a different environment, as well as in the store.
If you’re going to stay at The Hoxton, I would suggest going to the Dominion Theatre and then for dinner at J Sheekey. There’s also an outdoor swimming pool at Oasis Sports Centre in Covent Garden that no one really knows about. It’s got a really nice sun deck, which isn’t particularly useful at this time of year, but it’s one of those hidden gems in London.
What I love most about London is the people. I grew up in the north of England and I also travel a lot for work, but the diversity and melting pot of cultures and ideas that you get in the capital is like nowhere else in the world.