Getting the Party Started with Henry Holland

All round to the fashion designer's house to celebrate the launch of his new Papier collection.




Josh Shinner

Henry Holland is the guest you want at your party. Having thrust himself into the collective consciousness of the British fashion world in 2006 with his tongue-in-cheek, industry-referencing T-shirts (‘Get Yer Freak On Giles Deacon’) the fun-loving designer has become the boundlessly energetic, playful and funny side to the scene’s sometimes overly serious, duckface demeanour – and his signature quiff has become a regular sight bobbing above the well-dressed throng at style events across London.

Over the last ten years, he’s taken the irreverent humour of his T-shirts and diffused it through full season collections with his brand House of Holland. Now he’s pulled together colour-clashing prints from his archive, new season designs and the type of self-aware slogans that made his name to create a new collaboration with Papier – a spirited mix of notecards, notebooks, sketchbooks, greeting card sets, wedding stationery and, of course, party invitations.

alt textHenry in his east London home

Chatting with Henry about the essence of House of Holland and this new collaboration, it’s clear that the type of person he imagines when designing clothes is a character that he can most definitely relate to: “It’s somebody who’s the life and soul of the party,” he says. “The person that you gravitate towards at a dinner party. Someone who’s confident in their own skin, comfortable with who they are and likes to tell people about that using their sartorial choices.”

Wanting to express himself through his style has been a feature of Henry’s life for as long as he can remember; that signature quiff originated when he was in his teens and wasn’t appreciated by his school – not that that was ever going to put him off. “I went to quite a strict school and they were quite stringent on the uniform code. I’ve always had my hair stuck up for as long as I can remember and I used to spend many a day in the headmaster’s office where I’d be handed a comb and he’d be like, ‘comb your hair down’ and I’d be like, ‘no’. So there would be this stand off for quite a while where I would just be like, ‘Absolutely not. You can’t tell me how to have my hair. I’m not combing it down.’ And then I would just sit there!”

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It was this impulse for explicit, fashion-focused expressionism that would later kick-start his career – albeit with an added dose of knowing, insider jokes; Henry was working in teen magazines while making his bold and funny slogan T-shirts as a laugh for his friends in fashion, like Agyness Deyn and Gareth Pugh, when the rest of the industry suddenly took note and he was soon designing his first catwalk collection.

“It was much more in your face when we first started because everything we did was about slogans and wording. But now that’s kind of evolved and become more subtle and infused in the pieces in a different way, using colour and print. That’s why the collaboration with Papier has been a really fun project because we’ve been able to go back to that explicitness about saying exactly how we feel on the stationery and on the greeting cards. There’s not many things that I put on the greeting cards that I could put on a jumper, for example!”

alt textHenry's beloved dog Peggy is a fan of the Papier collection

The stationery collaboration was a chance for Henry to take a trip back through his archives and piece together a timeline of House of Holland. “I think what I wanted to do with the collection as a whole was to reflect the brand in its entirety – where it’s come from and its history, as well as where we are currently. We’ve had a lot of fun picking through the archive for prints to pull out but also we’ve added in a very heavy dose of humour and fun in some of the slogans.” That ever-present and self-aware sense of humour is rooted in his upbringing. “I grew up in a place in the North of England called Ramsbottom and I think if you can’t laugh at yourself when you come from Ramsbottom, it’s quite difficult.”

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Henry, who in his own words says he has “the attention span of a newt”, relies on notebooks to write lists – usually two to three times a day – to ensure that he gets his many tasks done in a timely fashion. He’ll be using the Floral Stripes notebook from the new collection from now on and when it comes to noting his To Dos, he’s been passed some handy advice from a trusted source: “My top tip for list-making is always put the last two things that you did at the top because a completely unticked list is very daunting and overwhelming. Whereas if you can see at least that you’ve already got through a couple of tasks then it helps. My mum gave me that tip. You can have that for free.” (Our very grateful thank you note to Mrs Holland is in the post.)

If he wants people who wear his clothes to feel excited, effervescent and confident, what about those who use the new stationery collection? “I want them to feel playful, to have fun and have a great time. I’m not sure how much that comes across when you’re writing a note but I suppose I want to encourage them to be a bit more cheeky with their correspondence.”

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Henry’s Party Tips (& Tricks)

Being in the über-social industry of fashion for over a decade means Henry knows a good party when he’s throwing shapes at one. So if you want to send out the House of Holland invitations to set the tone, here’s Henry’s top tips to get that party started.

A great party is made by a great guest-list
"You could be in the best venue in the world, celebrating one of the most important events to ever happen and if the crowd is dry and no-one is having a good time, then the party is a bit crap. So it’s very much about who you manage to get to the party. And I think it’s always good to have an eclectic mix of people."

Go light on the drinks (in colour at least)
"Keep as many of the drinks as clear as possible to avoid too much damage to outfits and also furniture. I’ve had a couple of pretty intense red wine mishaps in the past."

Play the crowd-pleasers
"It’s always good to have something that everybody knows for party music. For me, the cheesier the better. People can sing along. If people know the dance routines from the music video then all the better because it’s going to get people actually enjoying themselves and dancing around like fools."

100%, absolutely, never, ever, EVER have a dress code
"I absolutely despise dress codes because for me what I wear is about how I feel and how I want to be seen and how I want to be addressed and approached by other people. So that being restricted and that being dictated to me absolutely makes me see red. There should be no dress code whatsoever because that’s what informs a great party. If someone turns up to a cocktail party in jeans and a hoody, then good on ‘em if that’s how they feel."

Pull out the party tricks
"If I get drunk enough, I usually do some gymnastics at some point because I used to do a lot when I was a kid. So depending on the space available I would do a backflip or a cartwheel or a handstand or something. And then feel like I’m about to pass out!"

And if you’ve gone to someone else’s party, always send a thank you note
"Depending on my behaviour on the night, there’s a chance that I will send my thank you note a little bit delayed. I’m not going to lie, I’m not the most punctual but I will be probably using my rainbow stationery. I really like those and I have some which say ‘Henry fucking Holland’ on them."

Get your own party started by personalising Henry's new Papier x House of Holland collection.