James Hock A/W 2011, illustrated by Jaqueline Kishi
For some time, James Hock has been on our radar as an extraordinary, rising talent. Finally, we got the chance to speak to the fashion designer about his audacious collections, inspirations and Lady Gaga.
James, you recently exhibited your fourth collection for A/W 2011 at London Fashion Week (your third was visited by Amelia). How was that?
Yes I did. Becc from Bloody Gray PR was there to look after everything so I didn’t have to be there every day. But the feedback to the collection has been great. Very exciting.
This collection is entitled ‘Kpixoos Kaabos’. What’s the story?
It’s loosely inspired by Desmond Davis’ 1981 version of ‘Clash of the Titans’, so if anyone is a fan, they should know where KPIXOOS KAABOS pops up in the movie. Having said that, it’s not exactly the actual phrase but it’s something I anglicised.
James Hock A/W 2011, illustrated by Alia Gargum
Initially, you trained as an accountant. When did you fall for fashion and how did you make that transition?
Well, fashion has always been there. Perhaps not in the driving seat at that time but it’s definitely the co-driver and not a passenger that I just picked up. The transition was actually quite natural, it’s a matter of deciding who should be the driver and everything just changes organically.
As with your previous collections, your latest unveiled many wonderful textural contrasts. How do you select materials?
Hmm.. I don’t know. I guess you just do have a rough idea of what you want when you are sketching. And after that, it’s a matter of playing around with the different ideas and materials ‘til they feel right together.
You also continue to experiment with shape, which you began memorably in your first collection, ‘Sleeping with Dali’. How do you negotiate the balance between fashion as art, and wearable clothing?
I think I’m very much still learning to find the balance. It is sometimes too easy to just make something crazy. It does take a lot more to exercise restraint. But I think at the end of the day, you just have to stay true to what you are doing and also to the collection as a whole.
James Hock A/W 2010, illustrated by Karina Järv
Which are your favourite pieces, and why?
Oooh.. that’s a hard question. I have a new favourite piece with every new collection. But I do really like my EZ Cobra Trousers from the Sleeping With Dali collection. I have one in cotton drill with silver zippers and I literally live in them.
Your collection for S/S 2011 is called ‘The Unloved’ and features harlequin clowns. Tell me more!
It was a very emotionally sad collection and I kinda channeled the emotion through the eyes of harlequins, Stancyzk in particular, as painted by Jan Matejko. I think a lot of people see it as very ‘circus’ which it isn’t at all. To me, the collection was very lonely, very restrained and very regal.
The name you choose for each season is highly evocative. To what extent do you create a backstory and how does that originate?
Every collection has a story and journey. It usually starts with an idea that could come from anywhere and anything. And then it’s a matter of exploring the idea and finding your narrative and creating your ending. It’s very much like writing a book I imagine.
Do you ‘revisit’ previous collections before starting anew, or are you keen to achieve something entirely different every time?
For me every new collection in a way is a re-action to the last. I don’t think I ever set out to achieve something entirely different but after working on a collection for many many hours, you just kinda naturally want to try something else. It would be quite mundane otherwise.
Say I’m wearing one of your designs. How do you want me to feel?
I think a James Hock woman should always feel comfortable and confident. You should definitely feel that you are being yourself and totally nonchalant. But I guess deep down inside, you do feel a little special, just a little.
I can see Gaga wearing James Hock. Are you a fan?
I think she’s a very clever girl and I guess in terms of manufactured pop, she’s at least fun to look at. My only concern is that she has somehow trivialized the work of designers and made fashion very disposable. Having said that, I wouldn’t say no to a lil’ Gaga on the dance floor.
James Hock S/S 2011, illustrated by Sam Parr
In what ways do you find fashion an effective portal for addressing serious issues?
I think fashion is an effective portal only on a short term basis. And this is purely because the very cyclical nature of fashion itself. Fashion is about change and it is about now. After that, we move on. It doesn’t mean we have forgotten and not care about the previous issue but there are simply other issues that perhaps resonate more socially and culturally.
Your second collection, ‘The witch, the bitch and the…’ becomes increasingly dark. This culminates in the disarmingly dramatic ‘Roger II’. What were you saying there?
It was a rather angry collection. There’s a lot of element of being restricted and not being able to do what you want. It’s definitely an “I can’t take this anymore!” kinda collection.
James Hock A/W 2011, illustrated by Laura Wiggins
How do you help your models to portray the mood of each collection so effectively?
It takes a good team to get all things right and I’m lucky to have a team that I work with regularly. I do always have a vision but sometimes someone else’s idea can add a whole new dimension to the collection, and I find that to be extremely refreshing.
For ‘Sleeping with Dali’, you used mostly black and gold. ‘The witch, the bitch and the…’ and ‘Kpixoos Kaabos’ consist of (nearly) all black. For ‘The Unloved’, it’s black and red. Why do you limit your palette and is this a James Hock signature?
I think it is (for now). I don’t try to stay away from colour but at this moment the very controlled palette just suits my direction better.
Red and black certainly provide a contrast to typical Spring/Summer florals, nudes and holiday hues. Do you feel that designers complicate clothes with too much colour?
It is very much a matter of preference and usage. A piece of clothing can be over complicated regardless of whether it is monotone or have 100 hues. And yes, black and red is a huge contrast for spring but I guess not everyone wants to look like a bouquet just because the sun is out.
What are James Hock’s plans for 2011?
Ooh.. very exciting. Knitwear was introduced in the recent collection and is definitely an area that will be further explored. There is also an online project kicking off soon and a couple of other projects I’m keeping mum.
How can fans buy James Hock?
Through our website, www.jameshock.co.uk for this season. There will be a few others for the A/W collection, so that’s really exciting too.
Finally, James, how would you describe your personal style?
I asked my friend this question and the answer he gave was esoteric. So, there you go!
All photographs A/W 2011, courtesy of James Hock.
Alia Gargum, black, Bloody Gray PR, Clash of the Titans, Desmond Davis, EZ Cobra trousers, fashion, Gold, illustration, interview, James Hock, Jan Matejko, Jaqueline Kishi, Karina Jarv, knitwear, Kpixoos Kaabos, Lady Gaga, Laura Wiggins, Red, Regal, Sam Parr, Sleeping with Dali, The Unloved, Womenswear
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