What goes into a catwalk soundtrack?

Designer Henry Holland shares his secrets


Words by ELLE Sounds Editor Michelle Bobb-Parris

Henry Holland's designs are playful and bold so it’s only fitting that season after season, his collections are amplified by the irresistibly danceable mixes that accompany his shows.


Close your eyes and you’re in the club with your mates (but don’t, or you’ll miss the clothes!)

I for one find it hard to sit still at House of Holland presentation. So what exactly goes into a brand getting it oh­so­right when it comes to finding the mood music for an entire collection? I asked the man himself.

<font color="#00a8f1">Why are the House of Holland show mixes just so good?</font>


I like to include my favourite songs, which change about every three weeks. Often female hip­hop artists, and lots of Rihanna. ­ I think my first 5 shows had a lot of her in there!

<font color="#00a8f1">Where does music fit into your overall creative vision for a season?</font>

It’s all about creating a mood and energy that relates to the clothes themselves while telling the story alongside the collection. But really for me music is about the feelings that it creates. Around show time, it’s really important to create an atmosphere that reflects us as a brand: uplifting, playful, happy music.

<font color="#00a8f1">Is there anyone you regularly work with to make your show mixes?</font>

I work with the MISSHAPES, and I have done since my first ever show, which is why we always have the same sort of feel. So whether my show is about some dark historical moment, rave culture, or Peruvian skater girls, the music means that the show is always very ‘me’.

<font color="#00a8f1">Do you have any pre­show rituals?</font>

One of our favourite things to do as a team in the studio, when we’re at the end of our energy reserves the night before the show, is to pretend to catwalk up and down to the show mix that we’ve just received. It’s so important for the models as well. I want them to go out there with that spring in their step. I need the music to make them feel a certain way as much as I need the crowd to feel a certain way. I don’t want my show to be full of models standing like rabbits caught in headlights. House of Holland is very much about confidence and asserting your femininity. You have to be quite confident to wear my clothes - ­ they’re definitely not for shy, retiring wallflowers.

<font color="#00a8f1">Do you have a favourite show soundtrack to date?</font>

My first ever show soundtrack ­ I can just remember the excitement. I didn’t have a studio at the time and the MISSHAPES hand delivered it to my apartment, which I was working from. I was so giddy with excitement. The first show was a real moment for me.

<font color="#00a8f1">The House of Holland girl’s strut is a big part of what makes the presentation. How does music help?</font>

Last season [Autumn/Winter 2015] was an interesting one because there was a very strong, slightly slower beat throughout the music and it was a bit more robotic than with previous shows. But coupled with the travelator, it really worked.

<font color="#00a8f1">What’s on the HoH office playlist and do any tracks make into the show?</font>

I’m not gonna lie, we don’t curate a playlist, we just have the radio on. But that does inform some of the tracks that we include in the show mix. Then when it gets towards show time and we really start to hone in on the collection; the girl, the story that we’re telling, then we’ll search around for the kind of artists and music that we need to portray a story.

<font color="#00a8f1">Henry Holland's SS16 vibe preview/taster playlist:</font>

1. Queen's Speech 4, Lady Leshurr

2. Real, Years and years

3. BBHMM, Rihanna

4. Swords, Mia

5. Black Magic, Little Mix ('Don't judge', says Henry)

6. I Can't Feel My Face, The Weekend

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