Hive Interview: Rosie Hogan, Fashion Week's Youngest Designer

by dopechiq • Dec 6, 2007 11:57 AM PST
Hive Interview: Rosie Hogan, Fashion Week's Youngest  Designer

Stylehive got a chance to chat with Rosie Hogan, the youngest - and only - Aussie designer to showcase her collection during New York's Spring fashion week. Read on to find out how the 19 year old prodigy got her start in fashion, her experiences at Fashion Week, and Rosie's message to aspiring designers everywhere!

Stylehive: Tell us about the inspiration for your "Beyond the Pale" collection.

RH: Beyond the pale was actually an idea borrowed from a friend (who is just 17). She told me that she only feels inspired to write, when the sky is torn between twilight and nightfall. Unusually, I found a similar experience, when walking outside on an overcast day.

I wrote this idea into the theme for the collection, with the verse: "look into the white face of an overcast day, the quite calm is a stage for underlying truth waiting to unfold€¦"

I knew that it was impossible to capture the hundreds of layers of light from a white sky with just paper and fabric. So I made a colorway for the illusion of diffused light, which is simply a restricted palette of: off white + faded yellow + silver + accents of clear resin.

Stylehive: What got you interested in fashion? Have you always known it was what you wanted to do?

RH: I probably knew that fashion, or at least clothing, excited me when I was around 5 or 6 years old, but I didn't know how easy it was to create complete garments until I was much older€¦ When I was around 11, I started cutting up clothes quite boldly and I was always impressed with how easily you could imitate something haute couture, just by using hundreds of safety pins!

I remember being incredibly secretive about this craft because I didn't want to be ridiculed by my family and remained secretive throughout high school, so I could protect my passion from people who understood fashion design even less! My friends (who were a lot more fashion orientated than most teenagers) were more focused on micro trends that offended me; in turn they were repulsed by my taste in high fashion!

Stylehive: What is your favorite part of the design process and why?
RH: I love scribbling down ideas. Some of them initially are just stupid/naïve drawings and nothing gets thrown out. This stage is so impressive to me because no one has any influence over the development of an idea - it all just comes down to shapes, contours lines and colors, not personal taste.

With all of the hundreds of adjustments I make to each illustration (on paper and computer) it is almost impossible for the final designs not to be impressive in some way.

Stylehive: You have struck many people as a fashion prodigy because of your talent level at such a young age. Yves Saint Laurent took over the house of Dior at 19 and Zac Posen had his first big show at 21. What are your thoughts about being a young talent in a predominantly older field?

RH: I think there's a very good reason why the industry's older talents have not yet been replaced by their successors and a lot of it has to do with there being a lack of new faces who are artistic on an exceptional level. This has ensured that fashion remains respectable, while the rest of the world becomes more and more outrageously tacky.

When I was a lot younger (and more narcissistic also) I believed that being a child prodigy was important. After taking two years off from the industry, I realize you can be talented and appreciated regardless of your age. But it's a whole range of external factors that attribute to you success, regardless of how talented you are.

I also realize that fashion is completely dependent on new information, so without people as young as me fashion is nothing.

Stylehive: What was your experience like, having your first big show in New York Fashion Week?

RH: Despite New York turning out to be the opposite of whatever my expectations had been, I found it to be the most enchanting city to live in, or to host a fashion show. All of the designers and guests were incredibly generous and warm towards me, which was surprising for such a competitive environment.

Also, flaws such as being aggressive or bitchy, I've grown used to living in Australian and British culture, don't seem to exist in the New York psyche at all, which was very impressive.

Stylehive: How do you feel about being the only Australian designer selected to show in New York?

RH: I think it's very un-Australian to compete internationally, with the exception of happenings in the UK. So it doesn't really surprise me that I was the only Australian selected to show at NYC.

I have been participating in events placed there primarily because I will be moving to New York soon, and also the majority of industry people who have approached me so far have all been American! Consequently, it would be very easy for my entire career to depend entirely on American publications, sponsors and photographers.

Stylehive: What do you look forward to most with your upcoming London Fashion Week show (Fall/Winter 2008)?

RH: I'll probably just be happy as soon as it's over - it's a lot of work!

I have to do another fashion week immediately after and it will be satisfying knowing that another step has been taken to reach my greater goal! As soon as the models and collection have been prepared for the show, I will have more time to really enjoy London and most of all, look forward to meeting all of the other designers.

Stylehive: Which fashion designers have been important points of reference or inspiration for you?

RH: When I was growing up Christian Lacroix, Alexander Mcqueen, Tom Ford and Paco Rabanne inspired me the most.

Stylehive: What has been the greatest challenge for you so far?

RH: Having to work with some very narcissistic people! I've actually had some dressmakers attempt to sabotage me, going so far as to replace my designs with their own, resulting in garments having to be remade as many as five times.

One sample maker even went so far as to sneak his labels into the lining of each of my garments (swing tags and all) with the address and website of his amateur label in Sydney. Furthermore, I had to beg this person just to let me take the few garments we made home with me, and he then repaid me by releasing detailed shots of my collection on the Internet (to promote himself) weeks before it was due to be revealed to media.

In competitive runway, I've even had girls dressed backstage inappropriately (no underwear on) and one girl, at my show in New York was dressed backwards! My name and logo have also been played (accidentally) throughout a different designer's show, along with music painstakingly produced for my collection.

Stylehive: What kind of advice can you give to aspiring fashion designers?

RH: I get asked this question a lot and so I actually have pages of information available for anyone who would like to skip fashion school, if they contact me€¦ It's probably more beneficial that I offer broader advice now, however:

First of all, anyone aspiring to be a designer should avoid people who may be limiting their talent (at all costs). Most often these people are your mentors, close friends, even your parents!

If you want to do exceptionally well in this business, both your designs and motivation must be strong. This means that you had better get used to being completely independent -from everyone!

Another thing is that many unsuccessful people will try and reinforce messages such as, 'it's not what you know, but who you know', 'fashion is competitive/cutthroat, only old gay men become successful' blah blah blah€¦ These people don't actually know what they're talking about and you should be prepared to hear a lot of this misinformation.

A large part of the industry is just an illusion to impress consumers and scare off competitors. Some of the most expensive looking pieces on the runway have only taken 10 minutes to make, along with accessories that have been swapped backstage, and taking place in a show commissioned by someone else, with models, hair and makeup all volunteering their time.

Unfortunately many potential designers become intimidated by this illusion and never even enter into the fashion industry!

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