AnOther speaks to the founder of accessories label HRH, which made its debut as part of Fashion East’s Autumn/Winter 2021 line up
Who is it? “I’ve been spending so much time in ‘the scrunchie factory’,” says Hannah, who goes by HRH, describing the Fenchurch Street-based studio where she creates gigantic nylon hair accessories, padded scarves, sheepskin bonnets and miniature bags entirely by hand, for her accessories label HRH. Hannah, who was born and raised in London and studied costume design before undertaking a career in styling, found inspiration for her latest venture working with dancers on set. “When I was styling I met director and choreographer Holly Blakey, and we began collaborating together,” she explains. “It was the first time I’d worked with movement, and I found that really inspiring as I got to experiment with all these different fabrics, such as power mesh and lycra.”
Along with Hannah’s fascination with the aesthetics of women’s sports, including gymnastics and ice skating, HRH was born, with Hannah initially making scrunchies for her friends as gifts. “They went down really well,” she says. “Everyone seemed to want them – and it gave me such pleasure that people were getting enjoyment out of them.” Enjoyment, fun and pleasure is the central ethos of her label, which debuted with a collection titled Active Accessories as part of Fashion East’s Autumn/Winter 2021 line up. “I’m not the most traditional candidate for Fashion East,” says the designer. “Usually people are coming to it straight from Saint Martins, but I am a bit older and took my time about it. It’s given me a lot more time to think about what I want to do. It‘s such a fantastic opportunity.”
Why do I want it? The fabric she utilises in her designs is of high quality and incredibly considered. Despite their playfully DIY aesthetic, each piece is finished with meticulous detailing, including the contrasting stitches on HRH’s colourful scrunchies; at first glance it appears to be overlocking, but it is actually a unique stitch copied from a piece of furniture that Hannah’s fell in love with years ago. “The materials I use are actually quite polarising, as I’m using really technical nylon that I source from an amazing supplier in Hong Kong, or I’m using vegetable-tanned leather and organic sheepskin, goatskin and wool. I find it goes together quite nicely,” she says. For Hannah, it is this tactility that enhances the experience of her work, and she begins the design process by touching potential fabrics, before even picking up her sketchbook. “I’ll find a piece of rust coloured Toscana sheepskin or something, and then I’m like ... Ah, yes! To go with that I need that kind of silk … And so on. So it always falls into place for me this way.’
But did she find creating work that focuses on touch a challenge during Covid-19? “Next season I can’t wait to have a showroom with Fashion East,” she says. “I think it will be great – I loved being on set with everyone when we shot the collection. Everyone was having so much fun and wanting to try it on the pieces and this is how I want them to be experienced. I want people to feel connected with them and treasure them, like talismans or good luck charms.” Hannah also plans to expand HRH with underwear and swimwear for next season, while continuing to follow her instincts with fabrics and what people are responding positively in her work. “I really want to add more shapes to the bags and hopefully more of a range of sizes,” she says, noting how she loves to play with proportion. “I want to keep things relatively small and pick stockists carefully, but I would also love it to be more internationally available. The main thing to me is keeping things exciting and fun,” she concludes. “I sometimes think that ‘fun’ can be seen as really frivolous, but I think it is so important – especially right now.”
Where can I find it? Online at OfficiallyHRH.com.