Pam Hogg is so cool its almost painful. She is Scottish. Her hair is neon. She has fronted the awesome punk bands, Rubbish and Doll. She holds a Master’s Degree from the Royal College of Art in London. She makes every piece that leaves her studio. And, she has delivered formidable new visions of her glam-punk aesthetic since her first collection in 1981.
Hogg came up through the ranks of London’s Blitz nightclub scene in the late 1970s, where promoter, Steve Strange was known to enforce a dress code of only the most outlandish and fantastic ensembles. She designed for fashion collective Hyper Hyper through the mid-1980s, before opening her own shop in London’s Soho district in 1989.
Having made a departure from the fashion world in 1992 to tour with the likes of Blondie and The Raincoats, and dabble in the DJ biz and film industry, she is both legend, and un-sung hero. While her sub-cultural influence is on par with fashion’s other femme-fatales such as Vivienne Westwood or Patricia Field, her commercial reputation is catching back up since she crash-landed back into the fashion world just 5 years ago with her Time Machine collection. Her latest celebrity clientele includes Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Kylie Minogue.
Hogg’s style is a mix of bold geometrics in fetish fabrics like metallic PVC or rubber lycra as seen in her trademark catsuits, though dense and feminine tulle sections with volume and bounce are also common in her work. Since her return, subsequent collections such as Goddess at War, Wild Life, Save Our SoulS, and Future Past have each been executed with greater cohesion, while maintaining constructions that are genuinely experimental and shocking.
Hogg recently opened a retail section of her website, introduced by way of a beautiful video she directed featuring the designer and her models pouring out of a Rolls Royce in east London, clad in the newly available designs. We recently caught up with Ms. Hogg to discuss her work and creativity.
RYANN DONNELLY: How has your creative process changed since you started designing?
PAM HOGG: My creative process has more or less stayed the same. I’m in a constant flow of ideas that merge and formulate, sparking off a direction. Its like solving a puzzle, but not knowing what I’m going to arrive at. When a new fabric or idea enters into what I have at my disposal it can be the link to something I never intended, never imagined. This is when it really starts to roll.
DONNELLY: Who or what do you identify as your greatest source of knowledge or learning with regard to your work? A scene? A person? A band?
HOGG: I don’t see it as specific as that, but maybe thats the key. I could say my awareness is the source but its really my unawareness of specifics, as its my imagination and ability to transform the feelings I have about something actual into something personal and new.
DONNELLY: Can you talk about your latest work, and what inspired it?
HOGG: My last collection was called Future Past. It was about War and Peace and how we never learn. While we deplore war crimes of the past and revile its leaders, we continue to condone these atrocities by collusion and turning a blind eye for the purpose of money and power. The first section was military style garments in basic calico, stained with blood and dirt. The apron dress that opened the show had the words THE SOILS OF WAR scrawled on the back. Eventually the collection moved into garments signalling peace. Almost everything on the catwalk was recycled. I reworked archive pieces and used the remaining fabric I’ve had for over 20 years. I collected bags of old plastic flowers for months,scrubbing them in my bath at home and created headpieces with them. The flowered pioneer skirts and bonnets at the finale were a symbol of hope and future peace.
DONNELLY: What are you working on, musically?
HOGG: Mid October last year I sang at a small club in New York. I wrote the song about 13 years ago lying in bed, never intending it to see the light of day. But, a friend who is a concert pianist dragged it out of me. It’s a difficult song as its abstract and incredibly sad, but after just hearing me sing it once through he improvised in the most beautiful haunting way. We’re hoping to record it the next time I’m over there, along with some others he’s not yet heard, and eventually some new ones that I’ve started working on.
Words and melodies float around all the time. I’ve recently started to formulate them. I’m feeling the draw again, but finding time is the difficulty.
DONNELLY: Do you still identify as being part of a sub-culture?
HOGG: I don’t really think about it. I just work in the same manner that I always have. I’m not mainstream, I don’t create for commercial success; I create because I can’t not. But, if theres a need to label me I guess that (Subcultural) is the one that fits. But, I’m also aware that I have to have some sort of commerciality about my work, or I won’t be able to continue. I opened an online shop just before Christmas in order to maintain the upkeep of my studio. They’re the pieces that I’d want to wear, pieces that I can see other people wearing.
DONNELLY: How do you treat street style and couture differently? Do you feel like you make couture more accessible, or raise street style to a couture level?
HOGG: I design with the body in mind. Its my template. Sometimes it becomes an elaborate or simple art piece or statement, and sometimes it becomes functional. I just design as I feel.
DONNELLY: What are your favourite items in your wardrobe right now? What have you had forever that never gets old?
HOGG: I wear the same things all the time. I don’t have a huge wardrobe, so they’re all my favourites– one just takes preference depending on my mood. My pale blue drape is ageless. I bought it in the early eighties. Its too big for me, but I’m not bothered about that. Its an original– some teddy boy wore it. It has a life to it.