parental guidance from henry holland's mum, stephanie

The parents of fashion designers are often the greatest collaborators of all... Mums and dads of fashion, we salute you!

by James Anderson
19 December 2013, 7:00pm

Stehanie and Henry Holland

Collaboration is second nature to many of London's new wave of designers: whether interacting with a stylist to bring a fresh perspective to a new collection and show, or hooking up with a high street store, resulting in more affordable ranges for a wider public. But behind the scenes comes a much less publicised, though no less meaningful collaboration - from the parents of the designers. Far removed from the sentiments portrayed in Philip Larkin's 1971 poem, This Be The Verse - 'They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do' - the mums and dads you meet below are the ever-supportive long-term champions of their talented offspring. From day one, Henry Holland's mum has witnessed, nurtured and encouraged her son's commitment to design, from tentative school projects, to first collections, prior to professional success and its accompanying media acclaim. Such enduring loyalty has ensured that 21st century fashion is a better-dressed place! Mums and Dads of fashion, we salute you! 

When did Henry first show an interest in fashion?
I suppose he was about three or four. We used to lose him in dress shops all the time. My daughter Fleur would say, 'He's gone Mummy!' and I would say, 'It's alright, we'll find him over by the ladies jeans.'

Did he choose his own clothes when he was a kid?
He begged and pleaded for a shell suit one Christmas. Fleur had a pink shell suit and he had a green one and he sat too near the fire one Christmas morning and his shell suit, which was made of polystyrene - no, I mean polyester! - melted. He just turned to Fleur and said, 'You'll have to take yours off. I'll have to wear yours now.'

When Henry expressed an interest in pursuing fashion as a career, did you have any doubts?
When you're a parent you just want what's best for your child and the best for your child is that they are happy doing what is great for them. I knew, he knew, we all knew that one day Henry was going to be in fashion.

When did you realise Henry was becoming successful as a designer?
In the early days with those T-shirts he did. Henry's stepfather, my husband, was sent off around London to deliver a T-shirt to Hilary Alexander. It was the 'Let's play naked twister, Linda Evangelista' T-shirt. At that moment I thought, 'This is the start of something.'

Have you ever proudly shown one of the neighbours any of Henry's press coverage?
Well, not a lot comes out of Ramsbottom - apart from black pudding - so people sometimes come up to me and say, 'I've seen Henry in The Sunday Times or in Vogue.'

Do you always go to Henry's shows?
Yes, I've sat front row at all of his shows and it's very exciting. It's like he's giving birth each season. There's that heart-stopping moment with the lights and the music and then it's over all too quickly, really. I am always nervous for him. I remember at one of his earlier shows, it was running 40 minutes late and then people thought it was about to start and it went suddenly very silent and you could hear Henry behind the scenes shouting, 'Will someone get me a fucking shoe-horn!'

How would you describe your own style?
I like floaty, romantic things and I like colour clashes. I bought an enormous, orange cartwheel straw hat recently. I was wearing it whilst doing the gardening and a Danish lady came up and said, 'Oooh, if only I could wear a hat like you!' I said, 'You can, I'll give you the address of the shop.' She replied, 'But no, in Denmark, people will look at me. So I said, 'I rather think that's the idea, actually!' Yes, I do wear it whilst I'm doing the hovering too.

What advice would you give to any young person thinking of becoming a fashion designer?
The world needs creative people and if you want to do something badly enough, then think about it day and night. See yourself doing it. Visualise how it's going to be. That's what Henry did and this is how he created what he's created.


Text James Anderson

Henry Holland
fashion interviews
House of Holland
james anderson
parental guidance