I loved House of Holland AW13.
Those are words I never thought I’d write or say, but I did and I meant it. See, I ‘ve never been a huge House of Holland fan in the past. Sure, the collections were always amusing and entertaining, but always a little gimmicky and that’s made it hard for me to take Henry 100% serious as a designer. Now you understand why it almost pains me to write that very first sentence. However, I pride myself on being openminded and was more than happy to have my preconceptions broken down to give HoH another chance. One it deserved.
If you remember, Henry started out with a range of neon slogan T-shirts a couple of years back, in they heyday of New Rave. (I will happily admit I own all 4) Then his first collection launched and it was obvious that this club crowd was Henry’s target audience – it was loud, wild and anything but understated. It was also not my style. However, over the past few seasons, it seems the House of Holland party girl has steadily grown up and so has Henry, which leads us to today: the AW13 collection.
Going by the invite alone – an old fashioned cassette, which allegedly has music on it, sadly no one has a cassette player anymore to prove it – I assumed inspiration would be the Nineties (a massive theme throughout LFW, by the way). I was correct. The collection, entitled Nana Rave, does exactly what it says on the tin: seemingly inspired by his gran’s interior decorations – like shaggy carpets which served as a fluffy catwalk and retro prints, Henry threw in a dose of Nineties club scene and created his very unique mishmash of style. In many ways it should be very wrong – and in a few looks it definitely was – but what I saw was a grown-up and almost sophisticated collection with the usual sense of humour. What I saw was the first House of Holland collection I’ve ever found intriguing and clever. What I saw was something I liked a lot.
Seventies retro prints got a modern update with trucker caps and pops of neon. The knitwear got oversize crystal embellishments, which at closer look depict smoking cigarettes and martini glasses. Prints were layered on top of each other. At times it was a little tacky, and yet it worked. My favourite look of the collection – if not of the whole week – was the neon pink embellished sweater on top of a metallic full skirt, which is where Henry really grabbed my attention: it was chic and mature, and yet still a little tongue in cheek. A lot of the outfits would look as good at a business meeting as it would in a club, and I’m sure that’s what the House of Holland girl is after.
My positive thoughts do not mean it was flawless – far from it. There were a number of things I didn’t like: the Nineties denim wasn’t my cup of tea. The floor length dress with neon zip looked completely out of place in this collection. I’m not entirely convinced about bright green patent leather. There’s still plenty of room for improvement, but I am choosing to see the positive direction House of Holland is going in, and I can only hope for more of this in the future. It actually feels good to be proven wrong. Whilst maintaining his signature fun aesthetic – which, sure, might still a little gimmicky at times – I’d love to see more of this sophisticated side of the designer. So as of now, I am a House of Holland convert, and no one is more surprised about that than me.