‘Rihanna’s my new boss!’ beams Henry Holland, looking ridiculously relaxed in his Shoreditch studio, mere days before his London Fashion Week show on Saturday. This weekend he told the Observer magazine that the show was like ‘one long panic attack’ but when I arrive at the studio, 85% of the House of Holland Autumn/Winter 2012 collection is already hanging on the rail, and it looks GOOD. Like, really good. “Good” as in; I’d like to order a few pieces. Please. Henry. Anyway, I am sworn to secrecy. But there are a couple of killer dresses that you should keep your eyes peeled for and a coat to die for. Grown-up dresses. Elegant, cool dresses. Tailoring. And classic prints reworked in Henry colours. Gorge.
But back to Rihanna, Henry’s other Big Project for 2012; ‘she’s the coolest woman in the world. She looked so f***ing amazing at the Grammy’s!’ he says. ‘She knows what works on her; she never looks like she’s been dressed; [by a stylist] you can tell she loves fashion’. So Henry’s about to start filming a new TV show for Sky Living with the body-baring one herself in her debut role as a TV exec. The show will feature ‘young aspiring fashion designers and stylists, who each week will be given assignments to design and style for a string of celebrities and musicians.
Heading up the project alongside Mr Holland will be Nicola Roberts, singer, make-up entrepreneur, and regular “face” on Henner’s front row; ‘from my very first collection’. He explains that when Roberts wore a crochet maxi dress of his recently, it ‘instantly’ sold out ‘she sells clothes’ says Henry, with heavy emphasis. Seriously, who knew Nicola Roberts could drive sales?
The show, which starts on Sky Living this Autumn will give an insight into ‘how the stylist-designer-musician collaboration works; for cover shoots, for tour wardrobes, within an musician’s specific image.’ Henry, in case you forgot, left his career (all of 7 years ago) at teen magazine Bliss where he was Fashion Editor, to become a designer, so he understands both the styling and designing ends of showbiz. Of course, Henry’s client list is full of big name celebrities, and Rihanna has previously worn House of Holland; on her album sleeve and also on stage at the Capital Radio Summer Ball last year – but both those looks were ready to wear pieces that the star fell for and snatched straight from the catwalk. But Henry has also created custom looks for Kelis’ tour wardrobe – all hosiery body suits and metallic leather - and offers this advice to the show’s contestants; ‘it’s about creating something that fits within the musician’s brief and image, but it also has to stay true to your own aesthetic as a designer.’
And for the lucky unknown who can crack that, the prize will be to design Rihanna’s on-stage outfit for this year’s Wireless festival. Wow.
‘It was all Rihanna’s idea’ says Henry, explaining that Rihanna is the show’s Executive Producer, ‘so she really is my boss’. Better try and then behave then, eh, Henry? (Oh dear…).