Fashion Rambler meets Hannah Martin

I met the lovely Hannah Martin an age ago in the Summer of 2011. In this lightening speed world of fashion an interview conducted nearly two seasons ago might seem a little out dated. That is the beauty of Hannah Martin, her work is a timeless collection of trinkets and curiosities that never grow tiresome, let alone go out of style. 
Hannah Martin Portrait 
Her premium jewellery has sparked interest throughout industry press and the bloggersphere. Steve Salter gushed over Miss Martin in this post and her work has been the focal point of many a feature in every major publication from Vogue and GQ to Esquire and LUXX.
What is immediately striking about Hannah’s work is the luxury. In a time where every penny counts Miss Martin makes the extravagence worth every gemstone with an escapist indulgence too exciting to resist. What’s more is that this is jewellery for gents. Hannah Martin London is a jewellery brand for the daring gentleman and Hannah is leading the way in jewellery design that blurs the boundaries between genders. She’s an Alchemist, of sorts.
I got the chance to meet Miss Martin in the loft of a Kings Street building in Manchester. She was helping Todd Lynn out with his AW11 catwalk show at the premium city centre independent store, Hervia Bazaar. (See my interview with Mr Lynn here)
fashion Rambler: The press for your brand has largely involved women’s magazines despite the range being directed towards men. Do women wear the range knowing it is a menswear range or have they claimed it for themselves?

Hannah Martin: I think it is really varies because when I first started the brand the idea was ‘it’s men’s jewellery that their girlfriends can steal’. My style has a masculine edge to it and at the time I couldn’t find anything nice for men, it was either a chunky skull ring or something that looked like it had come from a car. So that’s where I came from, I never wanted it to be a strictly men’s range because I wear men’s clothes and womenswear, I think most people that are aware of fashion do that anyway.

Its jewellery and whoever likes it, likes it. I don’t want to put a label on it. There are stores that sell more to men, others that sell more to women and some that sell equally to each gender. It is quite interesting actually, some stores we’re in the menswear department and some we’re in the womenswear. 

fR: The range is sexy and youthful but the price-point isn’t so youthful. Can we expect a diffusion line or a collaborate line to pitch to shallower pockets?

HM: Totally, we’re actually working on a leather goods line at the moment. It will be small leather goods, wallets and key rings, that kind of stuff and should launch before Christmas. I started out only doing 18 Karat gold but the price of gold has gone up through the roof, it’s been going up since I started the brand. I introduced silver in the 3rd year which was a lower price-point but it is still an expensive precious metal. I struggle with the idea of a diffusion range, it doesn’t really sit with what I’m doing. 
The leather goods are a good way into a lower-end market. We’re in talks with some people about collaborations in jewellery in the future but we’re not there yet. It is definitely something on the cards.

fR: Considering that your items are so unique and so far removed from other fashion jewellery lines in your market, what is it that inspires you?

HM: I only do one collection a year, so it is quite different from fashion seasons. My collections each have a story around them, for each one I create a character, a male character. The character before this line was called Vincent and he was a Russian Oligarch-come-gangster. These characters bubble around in my head and I don’t know what makes me decide which I’m going to go with. Inspiration for the designs comes from all over the place, architecture, graphics, everything.

In terms of other designers, it’s difficult because there are so many that I love. I try not to look to hard at what other jewellery designers are doing, just for my own peace of mind. I design in a bubble. I love Todd’s (Lynn) collection, Rick Owens is another. Not only do they inspire my work but it’s inspiring to see that they’re doing really interesting things in fashion.
Hervia’s Oscar Pinto-Hervia (see my interview with him here), Todd Lynn (see my interview with him here), a lovely but sadly unknown guest and Miss Hannah Martin herself.

fR: Tell me about ‘The man who knew everything’, the latest collection.

HM: He’s the first one I haven’t made up in my head, he is written about a lot. People really believe he is real. He was written about a lot in history across a couple of hundred years. He was written about all over, he would pop up in the French revolution and then in the Russian courts about one hundred years later and he was basically supposed to be an Alchemist who discovered the elixir of life and never died. 
His death was reported about five times and then he would always pop up somewhere else. The idea for the collection was this really mystical and I was looking at masonic symbols and Alchemy and stuff. This new series [phase two of the collection, out for Christmas 2011] is based on the mystical twilight colours. 

fR: What can you tell me about this one [Europhia of Lights Ring]

HM: The triangle is historically supposed to be the strongest structure and is used a lot in masonic symbols, it was really about the power of the geometrics of the triangle. What I wanted to do with the phases is that they have really distinct design features. This is the first time I’ve done this with a collection actually, I usually design a whole collection of like 40 pieces and the different stories are all threaded through the collection. It was a bit of a nightmare because I had this huge collection, once a year, and then we had nothing to talk about all year. It was almost too much to show people. This idea of splitting the collections makes it seasonal without it being seasonal. More bite-sized chunks. 

Phase one was in March/April this year, phase two for Christmas and the last phase in May of next year.
fR: How important to you is it that the consumer understands the story behind the collections?

HM: There is a lot of store training, especially because it is fine jewellery and the stores we work with stock high end fashion and so there is a lot of training there. Obviously the story is impotant for the design process but at the same time if the customer doesn’t give a shit about the story, the jewellery still works. I’m not really precious about everyone understanding the story, if they want to they’ll know more about the collections but I’m not into that conceptual idea that art doesn’t work unless you understand it.

Read EVEN more of this interview at The Fashion Network here.


Joe Corre’s: A Child of the Jago

I went to a bit of a do the other night and guess who I bumped into. Vivienne Westwood’s son and founder of Agent Provocateur, Joe Corre. Corre was at Hervia Bazaar (the boutique his company Hervia owns in Manchester) with business partner Simon Armitage (not the poet) who works with Corre on the London brand A Child of the Jago.
HAHA. Can you see me laughing my head off in this snap?
If you haven’t heard of the brand before you may, at first glance, perceive it as a slight Westwood rip off with not much to say. How wrong you are my child, Jago has a lot to say. 
Inspired by the novel of the same name by Arthur Morrisson the brand looks to fight against consumerism-gone-nuts and tries to minimise it’s contribution to manufacturing and pollution. By using fabrics that have already been made and that are the left-overs of less conscious fashion, Jago can recycle and run a business without harming the environment.
The flagship is based in the East End of London and is also stocked in Hervia Bazaar in Manchester’s Spring Gardens.
The Spring Summer collection was an eclectic mix of bizarre concoctions, I had to ask exactly what the inspiration was. Armitage told me that the pair don’t watch TV (No, he doesn’t know what X Factor is) and that as a mode of entertainment they wrote a play (as you do). The play was based on the banking crisis and featured a plethora of diverse characters all of whom needed costumes. You got it, the S/S’11 collection is the costume rail for the Jago’s political satire.
The ‘Beggin’ Jacket, worn by a Banker who has nothing left to sell but empty money bags.
based on an antique Railway man’s jackets, the ‘Harry’ was worn by Harry the Hackney Cabbie
The ‘Leopard’ Shirt was worn by a certain man-about-the-public-toilets….
A brand with a message and with an interesting take on theatrics…

Elle Magazine/BFC Talent Launch Pad Party at Hervia Bazaar for Eudon Choi and Holly Fulton

Was at a do the other night. The cocktails were unbelievable. I have told everyone. The Alchemist know their mixing. The other interesting part of the party? Eudon Choi and Holly Fulton were there. 

As part of the Elle Magazine and British Fashion Council’s Talent Launch Pad scheme (breathes) the two young designers (among others) are being supported by the magazine power house and the BFC. As part of the award for getting to the finals each designer gets a spread in the magazine, stocked in a premium independent boutique (Hervia representing the NW) and also presence at LFW and PFW. Excellent.

So, I know what you’re dying to know. What was I wearing? Wonder know more!

Jacket: Vintage RAF Dress Uniform (wore it for my Prom!)
Trousers: TOPMAN
Dog Tags: Real, my Dad’s from the Army.
I mingled the crowds with the ever chic Anna Westerman (Editor at STYLE etc. Magazine) and my partner in interviewing-crime Emma Doyle of The Fashion Network.
One (or two) cocktails later and I was stood in front of Holly Fulton with my Dictaphone. I have to say, her designs blew me away. Having known little of her fame before hand I left wanting to find out more. Inspired by the idea of style icon Joan Collins boarding a Med Cruise, the collection was formed from wearable chic shift dresses and blouses that follow similar graphic prints inspired by North African tribes. The similarities between the items meant mixing and matching was encouraged, even with the bold art-deco earrings and bracelets. 

You can see my interview with Miss Fulton here.
Of Eudon Choi’s designs I knew a little more, since he is already stocked in the North at premium indie, Black White Denim.

Choi was so modest and nervous and lovely. He was genuinely so happy to be part of the scheme and was just proud to now be following in the footsteps of his famous classmate, Holly Fulton. Choi’s SS collection is entitled Industrial Revolution and follows along the lines of his past in menswear design. Sartorial tailoring techniques come together to create a feminine look with edge. His AW collection looks set to continue with this theme as he is keen to remain constant as he emerges into the fashion world.

If you’d like to see my interview with Eudon Choi, click here