“I’d been feeling very nostalgic,” said Henry Holland backstage at his spring summer 2017 show. It’s 10 years since he broke onto the scene at Fashion East with a collection of slogan ‘groupie’ T-shirts. His next season collection, shown in the Topshop showspace in the heart of Spitalfields market, featured a decade of self-references infused with a little (or a lot) of gypsy glamour.
Giant discoid sequins covered micro crop tops and oversized flares in homage to Holland’s love for the polka dot, and the slogan tee was back. A finale of girls marched down his runway in newly reimagined groupie T-shirts. The 15-strong collection will form his ready-to-buy offering. Captioned with slogans such as ‘Wanna Party Hillier Bartley,’ and ‘Let’s Breed Bella Hadid,’ they were a chance for Holland to note all the changing faces of It girls and designers in the industry: to “all those I love and admire that I didn’t get to [honour] last time, as they didn’t exist,” he said backstage. “I wanted to nod to different points throughout our 10 years and to reflect our heritage.”
Holland had also been inspired Josef Koudelka’s photography of gypsy communities from the Eastern Bloc. “There’s something about their style that’s so unique,” he says. “It’s a bit 60s and 70s, but very traditional. I mixed that with a bit of modern gypsy.” Traditional shirting fabric in an enlarged gingham print was worked into off-the-shoulder mini dresses covered in frills and skirts and blouses that flounced.
Apron-fronted dresses tapestry florals were cinched with suede belts that added a slightly western element. Sportswear came in the form of hoodies slung low around the hips, and tracksuits were cuffed with gingham ribbons. All the looks were worn with heaps of attitude and enormous gold hoop earrings. Noa Eshkol’s patchwork art was strewn across sweaters worn with floral slip dresses. It was chaotic, fun and free: a bit like the travelling community (the show was titled Free to Roam), and quintessentially Holland.