The silent and mysterious world of h.b peace

It seems that the only statement the studio believes in making is nothing at all.

by Jamie-Maree Shipton
12 December 2014, 2:00am

Photography Jordan Drysdale

H.B Peace, a somewhat ambiguous, yet not entirely anonymous studio, helmed by Melbourne creatives Hugh Egan Westland and Blake Barns, is perhaps a contemporary answer to a house like Maison Martin Margiela. Instead of focusing on brand or designers, the studio is based on the collective product it produces. It has very little physical or online presence outside of a few disjointed words on a Tumblr page allowing the slightest glimpse into who and what H.B Peace is: "HB considers clothing, we look at it for some god damn answers. Mostly it replies with one liners and broken excuses, charming but a little difficult". While not making a statement would appear to be their prerogative, we were able to get them to open up to us, just a little.

Who, or what is H.B. Peace, what does it stand for?
H.B. Peace is a studio, our medium is mostly fabric. We hesitate to call ourselves a "label" as that has pre-conceptions of a fashion system to which we don't subscribe.

The brand identity seems quite ambiguous: there is no real website just a relatively bare Tumblr page. Is this on purpose?
In terms of it being ambiguous, sure maybe, but that is because it's still somewhat ambiguous to us also. We don't see a need or benefit in defining ourselves too early—if it takes a little longer for our audience to properly understand what we are about, we are fine with that. In saying that, we are working on something and it should be up in the near future.

You collaborate with other artists a lot, often placing written verses and illustrations such as transfers onto your clothes. What is it about bringing together art and fashion that you find so important?
We don't necessarily see it as important to bring art and fashion together—not in binary comparisons of them anyway. We like to access our combined community: we have such a rich network of talented friends and colleagues that it feels foolish not to involve them in some way. As a very wise friend once said to Hugh, "lose sight of the island".

Your collection debuts are also very performative, and steer vastly clear of how most collections are shown on a runway. Is this to incorporate art again into the collection?
We stage runways in venues and in the context that we believe best fits the reason for wanting to make the work in the first place. We don't see them as especially theatrical or performative, in fact mostly we are worried the audience might find it dull.

Centre for Style has been a big supporter of you as well as other independent designers, how important is it to have a place like that understand what you're trying to do as a brand?
The importance for Melbourne of Centre for Style and Matthew Linde cannot be overstated. The prolific series of events, exhibitions, and their constant upheaval has given Melbourne a renewed sense of possibility and galvanised the community. It has also expanded the audience and encouraged a new generation that is taking Australian fashion, art, poetry and music very seriously.

You play with a lot of different perceptions throughout your collections. Is fashion still about having fun, or being able to make a critique of the surroundings within which your collections are produced?
Look around you, there's lots to poke fun at.


Text Jamie-Maree Shipton
Photography Jordan Drysdale 
Styling Jamie-Maree Shipton
Hair and make-up Wanda Waller
Model Timothy Elico

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