FashionBite interviews London Fashion Week designer Pam Hogg: EXCLUSIVE
Ahead of London Fashion Week tomorrow, FashionBite interviews Pam Hogg for innovative fashion showcase On|Off …see below..
Pam Hogg, the self-taught Scottish-born designer/musician who launched on to the fashion scene over 20 years ago, is showing her catwalk collection at On|Off for the second year running.
Her iconic metallic catsuits have achieved cult-like status amongst stylists and stars (adorning the likes of Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Kylie) and her London Fashion Week shows draw a star studded crowd packed full of rock royalty.
But what does the future hold for Hogg Couture?
Emily Seares talks exclusively to Pam Hogg about how the fashion industry has changed over the years, the commercial pressures on designers today and potential future collaborations for Hogg Couture.
You had a break from fashion in the ‘90’s- why did you return last year?
I knew the time was right. I’m inspired every day- be it fashion, music, art or film, anything that stirs me. It depends on my mood. I love clothes and dressing up, I first starting designing because I had nothing to wear. I imagined clothes in my head but they didn’t exist, I couldn’t find them anywhere so I started designing my own.
I made two mini collections a few years ago to go with two music tracks for an exhibition. The films were put on YouTube; people saw them and thought I was back in fashion so that kick-started the buzz and I started designing again.
How do you go about producing a collection for London Fashion Week?
There are so many different things that inspire all my loves [music/fashion/art/film] and they all fuse together in my head. It’s more about a feeling I have and a direction. I don’t know how any garment will turn out before I start putting it together. I don’t sketch out designs. It is all worked out in my head. I would describe it as being in a ‘delicate frenzy,’ it’s almost a sub-conscious thing and I just let it happen and let it take me wherever it goes. Fashion is a really exciting adventure and that’s the reason I do it. I think my clothes touch people because they get a window into the dream scope that I find myself in.
What inspires the next collection?
Last season, I was recovering after the show [Sept 09] and saw an unused bustle lying on the floor, it looked like a discarded halo which then gave me the title [Valley of the Shadow of Darkness] and inspiration for the next season’s show [Feb 10]. There are a lot of underlying religious themes in my recent shows. I was brought up as a spiritualist and the power of that is still a great pull.
Can you tell us anything about this season?
My collection this season is very different from last season’s but they always flow into one another. I’m not into trends. Trends are restricting and I need total freedom.
Is the commercial pressure on designers today too great?
This is a very important point. There needs to be a balance between commerciality and creativity. If investors come to creative people to try and get what they can out of them, they can destroy the creative state and make a potentially great commercial range stagnant.
Are you looking for sponsorship/investment for Hogg Couture?
I’m looking for a financial partner wise enough to understand this balance and someone who will let me grow creatively. Someone who recognizes the commercial aspects required but who doesn’t enforce them. I’d love to find an investor, as I know I have the ability to make a commercial range from my catwalk collection and do it well.
How will investment support you?
Finances will help me reach my potential. I have emails day in, day out with people asking ‘where can I buy your clothes?’ I’m looking for investment at the moment but perhaps it’s a failing in me that I can’t go out and ask for it. I suppose I’m hoping the right person will come and approach me.
My interest is not in the fashion business, I’d like someone else to take care of that side of it. My interest is in creating. My creative outlet happens to be fashion and I’m hoping to find someone who wants to take a chance with me as I’m a good bet. I’ve produced my collections with no resources or backing and somebody out there hopefully will recognize that. Even with a big backer, it’s still about getting a balance. Lee McQueen for example did the most amazing collections I can recall, but as we’ve sadly found out the pressures on him were enormous.
How has OnOff helped you?
When OnOff heard of my difficult financial situation they immediately offered me a show and have continued to do so without question. I’m totally indebted to them and I don’t know where I’d be without that, they’ve been amazing but I hope to stand on my own two feet soon.
Would you be interested in collaborating with a fashion brand in the future?
I would be interested in designing for a brand that I could relate to. For example, I’ve been wearing archive Puma for years because I love the logo and it’s a good brand. I’d not be averse to working with someone like that. I’d find it a challenge and I’d really like that. I’ve been offered so many things, but it has to be right. I can’t just do anything as I won’t compromise my integrity.
Who influences your personal style?
When I was a kid my inspiration for clothes was always guys in bands, that’s what excited me most in terms of style. Musicians were stars and I was inspired by the likes of Keith Richards, Brian Jones and Small Faces.
How has the fashion industry changed since you started out?
It hasn’t really changed in any way, shape or form for me. I’ve always been somewhat of an outsider. I would love for there to be more assistance for somebody like myself. I’m told I am inspirational and I’m overwhelmed with the reports every time I do a show, but I still need some form of support to progress. I’m not sure how much longer I can go on like this without it. I need someone who can help me finance my collections, as well as connections to help find production. It’s just me on my own at the moment.
Do you feel there is no fashion without music?
I wouldn’t put it into those terms but great fashion/music/art is all encompassing. I can’t divorce one from another and I never want to close myself off to anything. I have to be creative in some way- whether it’s drawing, making clothes or getting up to sing. I went to art school and won prizes, but it came to me so easily I thought everyone could do it.
I’m very open, which is a gift from my Dad. He instilled in me the power to be unafraid to be different and he inspired in me a sense of freedom. All my life my father wrote letters to me in poetry.
How did you come about supporting Debbie Harry in the early ‘90’s?
After a serious accident I couldn’t do anything, I’d left the band I’d recently been in so I hooked up with a bass player friend and was writing some stuff at home. A few weeks later Chris Stein [guitarist and co-founder of Blondie] came to stay with me. He asked to hear my music and said ‘you sound like a mad Nico’ [‘60’s singer/songwriter who collaborated on The Velvet Underground’s debut album]. Since Debbie had come to one of my gigs previously, Chris assumed I still had a band and asked me to be the lead support for their upcoming tour. I found them a great band to fill the spot but I ended up doing the last two dates. It was mental. I had five days and five rehearsals to get a band together. On the last night at the Birmingham Symphony Hall, Debbie called me on stage to sing ‘I’m Waiting for the Man’ [The Velvet Underground] with her, it was awesome.
You choose to use celebrity models in your LFW shows (like Alice Dellal and Daisy Lowe). Why is this?
I’m not into celebrity culture at all. I have friends who have worth who happen to be celebrities. The celebrity culture is a sad reflection on today, everybody is engrossed in nothingness. I detest the greed culture. It is take, take and there’s a certain respect that has been lost.
The punk movement was a direct reaction to the economic depression of that period, will we see a new movement emerge in today’s climate do you think?
I hope we will move from celebrating the lowest common denominator in our culture to the highest. Hopefully, we’ll see a backlash against feeding the machine. Real icons are the old stars like Marlene Dietrich, Bridget Bardot and Eva Gardner and this has continued through to the calibre of Debbie Harry, Joan Jett and Siouxsie Sioux.
Is the high street benefiting or damaging British design?
I don’t know enough about it to talk specifically, but I feel that mass production is a cheap way to get a look and can end up looking cheap. Why not have one fabulous outfit, rather than ten cheap looking ones? And do you really want to look like everybody else? For a £10 garment, what labour has been used for that? It is highly questionable how it can be priced that low. There is no way that the workers have not been treated unfairly to produce garments at such a low cost.
Mass production could make the situation better for indigenous people. We could pay them more money and make fewer, better quality products. If you get something so cheap, someone is ultimately paying the price. What does this say about our society?
You’ve had a shop in the past [on Newburgh Street in 1989]; would you return to retail again?
I would love a store again. It’s great to have personal contact with the customers. When I had my shop I used to get 200 people of all different shapes and sizes thinking I designed just for them. It would also be great to sell online at some point- as long as someone else manages it.
What will the future hold for Hogg Couture?
I would love to have the freedom to design to my ultimate vision, whatever that may be, with the resources to keep moving forward. It would be amazing to work with a group of atelier women in Paris for six months and experience that. I don’t know what would happen but it would be incredible to have the freedom to design with all that knowledge and expertise. I’d love to see what I’d come up with!
FashionBite is writing the OnOff London Fashion Week blog again this season, which launches tomorrow. Visit www.onoff.tv for live updates, catwalk reports, designer tends, who’s wearing what, front row fashion and celebrity spots!