Fashion designer, musician, film maker, mischief maker: Pam Hogg’s seven word Instagram bio needs little in the way of extras for an introduction to the infamous Glasgow School of Art graduate.
Described by the late Terry Wogan as having reached ‘cult status’ in 1991 – “one of the most original, inventive, creative designers in Britain” according to the broadcaster – two years later her band Doll would open as support for Debbie Harry; in 2014 a custom made Pam Hogg wedding dress went on display at the V&A; next week recipients at the Brits will take home statues of her design.
Talking to Clash over email days before her AW16 show, she explains: “I’m in a constant state of creativity. I don’t plan what I’m doing so there’s no specific references, it comes from a fusion of all the ideas in my head, and depending on how I’m feeling these ideas form a direction and I go with it. It’s always been like that.”
Returning to the catwalk in 2009, following time away from the industry focusing instead on projects to do with music and art, Hogg’s presence at Fashion Week (both London and Paris) has since been basically consistent, both physically and visually. As anyone who’s ever attended one her shows will attest, Pam does things differently.
Presenting away from the mainstay of Somerset House, or indeed, Brewer Street Car Park, her shows are the manifestation of a good time, boasting several rows of friends ahead of the traditional journo/buyer/wannabe crowd, with those not present on the benches often walking in the show (All Saint Melanie Blatt’s daughter Lilyella falls amongst the latter, likewise Disco Smack DJ’s Josh Quinton and Andy Bradin and the photographer Michael Mayren).
“It’s important to me,” she remarks of this family and friends affair type notion. “I am the brand, it’s not made up, it’s real. Brands are often concocted to attract a certain customer, to give them what they think they want. I give a part of me. I give them what they didn’t know they wanted. I’m lucky to have great friends who believe in my work. They come to support me and see the progression from one collection to the next. I’ve no finances to put on shows, so sometimes they step in to model, or I’ll grab someone off the street who I feel has the right energy,” she confirms of the process.
Long active in the music industry – away from her own output she’s a close friend and collaborator of Siouxsie Sioux, while the aforementioned @pamhoggfashion account is a full on exploration of other similarly celebrated individuals – and the current object of her aural affections are new cult heroes Fat White Family. She explains: “I was beginning to despair that all the elements in music that I love were in the past. They have the energy that breaths life back into what I’ve found has been a dearth of blandness. The new album shows their genius, raw and delicate, it shows their strength and diversity, they’re just letting it take them there.”
“Love Savages as well,” she continues of the current Hogg approved roster, “again, music that has life. There’s a bunch of cool young bands that are thankfully keeping it alive. I don’t really listen to much though, when I’m at that stage in my work, when I’m getting to the moment it all starts to unravel, I don’t hear anything, it’s like I’m in another dimension.”
So fluid techniques aside, what can we expect from the new Pam Hogg line-up? “Everything is in progression,” she clarifies, “I design as I go along, not sure of what will emerge. Ideas will fuse and something I hadn’t imagined will appear. The fact that I make everything myself allows me that freedom. As for the end result, like me you’ll have to wait and see!”
At last season’s SS16 show her pieces exhibited a shift beyond the ‘typical’ Hogg aesthetic; titled ‘Lawless’, the collection went in heavy on the metal studs, suggesting a distinct contrast to the attitude afforded the Lycra tight silhouettes for which she has become known, namely thanks to her fondness for a catsuit.
“For me it’s a way to adorn the whole body in one, it’s become my trademark, in its simplicity with just one garter or completely embellished with hundreds of cut outs creating patterns. It’s powerful in that it’s a second skin,” she asserts of the garment’s non-sartorial qualities, “you become confident. Everyone who tries one for the first time says it empowers them.”
Perhaps accordingly, the trophies she’s designed for the forthcoming Brit awards appear draped almost, in Hogg couture. “I thought there must have been hundreds designed before,” she says of the occasion, “so it was quite something when I discovered there had only been five.” The first of the five to create bespoke awards for each category, she joins Vivienne Westwood, Sir Peter Blake, Damien Hirst, Philip Treacy and Tracey Emin in what is perhaps one of contemporary culture’s most exclusive clubs.
Initially contacted by Remi Kabaka from Gorillaz, she recalls: “I’d just finished my last collection so was still buzzing with ideas. They sent one blank statue and photocopies for me to sketch on for ideas, but I ditched the paper and painted straight onto the trophy. I had hundreds of variations in my head so I called in another nine trophies and just kept painting. They couldn’t believe it when they saw them – I was meant to just have one – they had no idea which to choose so when I asked how many awards were being given out and they said 13, it was obvious I needed three more to complete the set,” she concludes, with the casual outlook of someone completing a shop bought craft set.
Pam Hogg shows tonight at 19:30.
Words: Zoe Whitfield
Portrait: Donald Christie