Juliette Hogan's New York Winter

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Juliette Hogan's Wilde T and Dior Skirt from her Winter 2015 collection.
There are few winter collections I've been anticipating the arrival of as much as Juliette Hogan's 'Take it or leave it' range which showed on the runway at NZFW last year.  Aside from being one of my favourite local designers of the past decade, Juliette has consistently produced stellar collections that epitomise modern femininity and sophisticated wearability.  As part of the Spark Lab fashion season last week, she presented a session which dissected the ideas and inspiration behind her designs and her path over the course of her career which has seen her achieve great success.

The session began with the screening of Juliette Hogan's fashion week film from last year's event (which you can watch on Vimeo here), that presented a behind-the-scenes look at the making of her biggest fashion week show to date.  Comprising an amazing live band, Sunken Seas, from Wellington, 22 models and a 50 metre catwalk, the show was an epic event for the label and a fantastic sight to see live.  To hear Juliette say that watching the film made her really emotional was an interesting insight into a designer who comes across as composed and self assured as her confident clothing.  She continued; "Doing fashion week is incredibly hard work and a really stressful time.  As the designer I'm always the one out the back, I've never sat and watched one of my own shows so seeing it on the big screen like this is how I imagine people at the shows feel when they see it."

During the course of the next hour Juliette revealed further fascinating insights into how she designs, where she draws inspiration from and how she approaches dressing which all helped put her label's aesthetic into perspective.  I've included a few of my favourite excerpts from the evening in Juliette's own words below:

On her approach to fashion:
I wasn't really into fashion when I was little. So when I became interested in fashion I still had a casual approach to it. I understand that there's times in your life when you need to dress up and have beautiful things in your wardrobe but for me it's about wearing clothes that are comfortable and make you feel good and are appropriate for any situation.  I'm a little bit of a selfish designer and I generally design things that I feel like wearing or what I intend to feel like wearing in six months time.

On choosing fabrics:
I generally like to choose my fabrics before I start creating the garment as opposed to designing a garment and then trying to find a fabric for it. I generally find that the fabric lets me know what it wants to be made into.  I know that that sounds a bit fairy but you can look at a fabric and know that it wants to be made into a certain sort of garment.

On wearing colour:
I still wear black mostly but I think it's really important in stores for merchandising purposes and for customers to have a bit of colour. So every season we try and use a few colours to try and pop the collection.  For this season we developed the haunting floral first which is exclusive to us and from there we were able to choose our colour palette which is just a bit muted.  Occasionally we'll bring in a bright colour, but I'm a little bit scared of them (laughs).

On where she finds inspiration and her muse:
It's changed a lot in the past 10 years with the ease of the internet to see what's going on around the world.  I follow quite a few blogs.  I talk to people.  I read magazines.  I love traveling.  I do think that my collections generally tell their own story, they're not heavily themed as such every season. They're not heavily influenced by something they're just a progression from my muse.  She's just this girl who is in New York or Paris, she's a cool girl, like an off-duty model. She likes to dress well, she dresses really casually but then she's got a couple of pieces in her wardrobe to take her out on those really special occasions. It's more about an evolution of style.

On the evolution of her label:
Compared to my very first collections, I'm really loving what I do now.  I feel like over the past two or three seasons I don't want to say I've nailed it but I'm doing things I really love and respond to and I think it's taken a while to get there.  When you start out in the industry it's really daunting and you're trying really hard to put yourself out there and become a designer like you dreamt about and so you're trying new things or you're doing things you think people are wanting to see.  And I think the last three or four years I've become really comfortable with what I design and really comfortable with the brand that I'm portraying and I'm really enjoying what I'm designing at the moment.

On New York:
New York is a big part of who I am and where I've come to as a designer.  It's a really special place for me and it's where I first started developing the idea that I wanted to have a label.  I went back to New York last year for a friend's wedding and I had designed the collection by then.  I was thinking about me wearing every piece while I was there.

On looking back to her first collection:
Even though my design sense has changed, looking back there are still pieces from my first collection that I'd feel comfortable wearing today. Bits of my style have changed but I think those pieces from ten years ago still have relevance today and I think that longevity important.  I'm a very classic designer and I don't like bells and whistles, I just love beautifully cut garments out of beautiful fabrics that fall and drape really well and make you happy when you wear them.

On choosing to be NZ made:
We produce everything onshore here, aside from jeans and only because there isn't the machinery here to make them in New Zealand anymore.  I'm a really avid NZ made designer, it's really important to me to support our country. We've got a team of outworkers who produce the samples and also the production in Auckland.

On her team:
The team that's around me is incredibly important.  I've got wonderful girls up in the workroom with me.  I like to surround myself with people I respect and admire and have a design sensibility, it just helps make the brand what it is I think.

As you can see from these images, Juliette's collection is stunning and definitely reflects her maturity and considered approach as a designer.  I'm adoring the haunting floral silk pieces and amazing embellished lace, not to mention the slinky sequined evening wear.  Juliette has re-imagined the New York that she knew while studying there over a decade ago into the world of her modern muse, the result being classic garments that perfectly capture the urban woman's sophisticated life.  No doubt these pieces will find their way into many women's wardrobes this coming season and this collection is available at Juliette Hogan stores, stockists and online here.

Images from Juliette Hogan

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