Joanne Hynes decision to take her collection down the catwalk this past LFW wet our appetites for more so we were straight on the phone calling in the collection for closer look. The sequins, tweeds, fur, patchwork, heavy beading, metallic fabrics, knit, velvets, draping, printing, leather, clogs and wedges all arrived for a little game of dressing up. As we suggested in our show review there is a slightly perverted indulgence for mix and match of everything and in interview with the designer it becomes clear that this is a way of life rather than just a story to sell clothes. Interview after the pictures.
MODEL: HOLLY@MODELS1, MAKE-UP: EOIN WHELAN, PHOTOGRAPHY AND STYLING DAVID POOLE ASSISTED BY TOM KITCHING.
INTERVIEW WITH JOANNE HYNES
Describe what you do?
I create, design, improvise, destroy, move forward, fantasise, and reflect, respond.
How did you arrive at this?
I wanted to be a painter as a child. My babysitter spent hours with me, making dolls from scratch. I knew how to hand sew and work a sewing machine at 7-this was very formative in retrospect. I have one brother and we lived in the countryside in the West of Ireland. My parents went out a lot at night and we stayed up late on school nights watching movies – visually I was informed. I did everything in my power to avoid going to school -I hated it. I fought about being told what to do, and I guess I rebelled in my own way. I think this left side approach comes through in my collection still.
I took orders from school kids for clothes that I used to source for them in vintage stores. I made bags and customized jeans with graffiti on them. I studied in Ireland at The Limerick School of Art and Design for 4 years where I did a BA in fashion, in between I took 1 year off and worked in the industry in London with a designer called Tristan Webber. I was later discovered by Nicola Formichetti who ordered a full range of the leather tops that he saw me wearing for the Pineal Eye. I was young and it wasn’t about business at the time. The next day he called me and said Fred Segal in LA wanted to buy the collection so I met them and they placed an order, sitting beside Margiela and Demeulemeester and I hadn’t finished my college degree in Ireland! After BA I went straight into Saint Martins MA, which was two intense years. I didn’t focus on selling, I was design focused. That was the beginning.
How easy or hard is it?
It takes time and effort, the main thing is to be sincere about it. I am driven by my feelings. It’s hard at times and other times it just connects. I am chasing connections-the sensual nature of a cloth, the cut at the waist, a drape, looseness or tightness, a sleeve, a solution to getting dressed, a rebellion, an aesthetic.
Is the process from idea to product or output a changing one, or a routine one?
I am led instinctively, led by my hand, that side of me is sophisticated, fearless and natural. The process is instinctual and comes from many influences and memories, from the past, from the current situation. The process is an anchor. Without a process there is nothing to work with and it lacks structure and is a bit vacant and cosmetic. I like a balance of both-artificial and natural.
Is there always an audience/ character/ market in mind, an external audience?
Character and narrative are the essence but always indirectly. She is minimalist/maximalist. The Joanne Hynes woman is complex, individualistic, beautiful, intense, and serious. She is considered but she’s not always breezy and free, there is a tension there too. She is strong and vulnerable, she surprises. It’s a strange mix of beauty and sexiness in one. If I had to define it she could be a lot of women, the Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, Camille Bidault Waddington, Diana Vreeland, Helena Bonham Carter. My girl likes to improvise and as she is building and exploring characteristics of herself and experimenting. She interesting and quirky, she likes to experiment and mash things up.
It’s a mix of many different references that form feelings or a gesture of the kind of modern femininity I like to explore. It’s a narrative that evolves in my head and I like to express it through clothing. It’s always a stab in the arm to what’s mainstream and pedestrian.
Explain the relationship between art/creativity and establishment/industry, can the two co-exist? Is successful work diffused work?
I guess there’s a warped sense of success in the world usually based on the number of units but I think this is changing now. I do believe that fashion is art and it’s the perfect love child. The process overlaps but the product is diffused in that it has to be worn on the body-that’s where it is different.
Making a few nice dresses every season is not enough now. For a brand /designer to work it needs support from the industry and needs to be sustainable and consistent-in order to survive. My relationship with the customer is important the connection drives the co-existence between art and industry. The products such as my jewelry, connects with certain women where it becomes important in terms of getting through the day, putting it on, the security and need for communication within it. That’s industry. Fashion is totally psychological and like a religion-its about feeling secured and confidant, that’s what maintains the industry. The customer is smart, they can tell the difference between diffused work and good work.
Is there a defining line between you the individual/ designer and the audience?
I am learning to separate more, to have other areas of my life that are important. When I graduated from Saint Martins, I was living in a bubble, kind of untouchable, it was very intense and personal and this fuelled me for a few years but now I need more.
Is there an emotional, physical, mental backdrop to your work, what gets you motivated work wise?Of course the hunger is what keeps it going. I’m still starving -ha ha!! But now my motivation has shifted, the things I got kicks from before don’t turn me on as much. I’m more interested in balance now. I was really afraid of it in case it got in the way of my work-its the conflict that got me going in the past but now its other things. The process is like a kind of internal revolution.
Tell me about the current collection/project you are working on; what is your current source of inspiration?
I am based between India and Ireland and this year a lot in London. So I am living this global existence. I work intensely in a bubble at times, but then I travel all the time back and forward. We are launching the collection in Mumbai in April -I cant wait! My work is a conversation between different cultures, namely Ireland and India. I referenced a lot between the strength of both. I am interested in the meaning and emotional connection to “Irish-ness”. I like the unusual nature of it. There is a deep connection between people and the landscape and the bucolic interests me. I looked at India but indirectly and hit on the idea of a global traveller.
Who or what are your influences, heroes, idols, muses, and irritants?
Spirituality and religion! I am a Sikh, but not a very good one but the intention is there. I don’t have idols but this year I promised myself I would directly reference some living muses in order to get the collection going. It still hasn’t happened, as it’s more if an abstracted emotion rather than literal interpretation. I am endlessly aware of James Joyce, Lucia Joyce, Mahatma Gandhi and Professor Stephen Hawking. A few professor pals of mine are inspiring who live in India; we have talks about responsibility in life, death, religion, and spirituality!
The current issue of Slashstroke Magazine is themed “FAUX ZEN” how would you translate this?
Faux is when something tries to be something and really isn’t although it looks like it is that from a distance. Faux is interesting because its brilliantly manipulation. Zen is very misunderstood by people in the West, a bit like karma. It could be something brilliantly misunderstood! East meets west, very mysterious, hopeful, dark, enlightening, spiritual-a bit like people.