Henry Holland is one of the few fashion designers these days who actually seems to make clothes with young people in mind—as opposed to middle-aged people who think they are young. So there was something of a cheeky about-face this season with the designer focusing on the idea of, as he put it, "Rave Nana." Now, according to Holland, this could mean a girl who goes to her grandmother's house—in 1989, with acid house in full swing—has nothing to wear to go out, and so plunders the nana's wardrobe, throwing in some dated soft furnishing fabrics for good measure. Or it could mean the nana herself decides, as MC Kinky opined in the opening track for the show, that "everything starts with an E" (that's Ecstasy, Americans) and ends up in a lay-by off the M62 (that's a freeway near Manchester, England, Americans) passed out with a pocketful of pills. Or, and this is perhaps a hidden message just for this reviewer (although there were more of us in the audience tonight), it means grow up. You aren't 16 anymore. You listen to way too much house music (now known as EDM, Americans). This clothing belongs to us!
If this all sounds very parochial, domestic, and British, with a lighthearted view of drug use, well it is. And Henry Holland makes no bones about that. His last two collections have been tinged with a nostalgia for a time he can barely remember—the late eighties and early nineties; the designer is 30 this year. That nostalgia has given his clothing an added panache and a very definite link to a musical heritage that connects with his audience in a new way. It has made House of Holland
produce clothes that stand out—and not just for lurid reasons—such as the tunic and trouser set with paste pill appliqués; the seventies furnishing-fabric print suit and dresses and accompanying knitted sweaters (almost a perverse take on old Prada but still with a punch of their own); the shiny vinyl pieces with dyed shearling interiors. It might just have made Henry Holland grow up that little bit, too.