The Fashion Folk S01 ep7 : Douglas Hannant, Hannant Fashion, [New York]
Interview with Douglas Hannant
The American lifestyle sort of demands a certain sort of clothing and it is just our sensiblity. We are very mobile and very relaxed and the whole world is becoming more like that. If it looks comfortable, it is usually not very sexy, so it has to be also a balance between those elements as well.
KM: What is Douglas Hannant?
The collection is based on a balance between couture and sportswear, so it
has this very relaxed young, sportwear feeling. For instance taking very
luxurious silk tweed and cutting it into a little cam shirt it is that very easy
American fit but with the influence of European couture and the fine fabrics.
KM: Why Fashion?
Fashion is something that you don't really choose it sort of chooses you but
you do it because you have to and because you love it. There is no other
reason to get into this. I studied in painting originally, in the... I actually have a
degree in painting and fashion designing.
KM: This is Fine Arts here in New York.
mmmm. Before I realised I was not ready to graduate in Fine Arts in Painting
and I realised that I needed to design clothing.
KM: Why did you go in the genre of sportwear?
I believe a lot of style comes out of contradiction and I love that struggle
between couture and sportswear. I don't think that a woman can possibly look
chic or having a style about her, if she is not comfortable in what she is
wearing. And I don't like clothing that is over designed. I mean pure couture
many times becomes so over the top that many times it is wearing the woman.
KM: But isn't couture and sportwear a little bit of an oxy moron - I mean in
some respect couture is really absolute beauty and sportswear is absolute
utility. How do you bring them both together?
That’s what is exciting about it, and that is what the trick is to get the balance
perfect. When something is more embellished - whether it is hand beading or
embroidery, then the shape would become simpler, when the fabric is a
simpler fabric then I'll become more intricate with the cut, so it is always
keeping that balance of never going to far one way or the other.
Before I started my line, for several years I worked in visual merchandising in
departmental stores in the windows, so
KM: So you were a window dresser first!
Yes, and so the last job that I had I was working in Barneys in the early 90's
and I saw all these women come into the store and complaining and saying
"you are not offering what I want!". I saw on one hand this very over designed
clothing that was very street wear inspired and then on the other hand the idea
of cocktail dinner dressing, was very traditional - the little brocade suit, the little
cocktail dress or the evening gown - so I saw that there was this void
A different way of dressing, for cocktails, for dinner, for evening - it started out
like that and also a luxury sportswear. There was really a lack of that at that
time. Very special clothing for the day, I mean I really don't believe in doing
basics. Even something that tends to border on basic, will have some detail
that makes it special and I feel that there is really no need for basics
It’s funny, because fashion has swung that way now and now what women are
looking for is individuality. They are not following fashion the way they used to,
it has to have something that they feel is custom.
Well...there are two Americans' - Halston and Geoffrey Beene. With Halston it
is the ease, and the timeless, elegance but yet sexy and young and hip: in the
case of Geoffrey Beene , it is the detail, that whimsy that ... the mixing of
contradicting fabrics. You'll see in my clothing I do a lot of suede trims, leather
trims, very fine details. That is how Geoffrey Beene has influenced me and
actually he has been sort of a mentor to me, in the beginning, when I was
KM: What is fashion?
Clothing to me, and I see it as the furniture in your home, it is something you
live in, it is part of your life, and it should be you and it should be something
that you - it should enhance what you have and you should feel very
comfortable in it.
KM: How do you create?
It starts out that you this concept for your collection. You pull the fabrics
together based on that concept and the style of your clothing, you know, I
mean, it evolves from season to season, but the core of what Douglas
Hannant is the core is always the same. When the fabrics are pulled, you know
I start to sketch shapes, start putting the collection together on paper, we
drape the muslins, sew the samples here in my samples room and then when
it comes down to the show you edit a third of the collection out.
KM The runways here tend to be much more sober than the runways in Paris -
is that because it is real business here and you are not just interested in
annoying/exciting the media. How do you see that?
Well there are a couple of answers to that. I think that one is that the media
doesn't want that from an American designer and I think that they don't really
expect it. I think that they expect Americans to be more practical and that is
what they are looking for here.
The American lifestyle sort of demands a certain sort of clothing and it is just
our sort of sensibility. We are very mobile and very relaxed and I think actually
that the whole world is becoming more like that. If it looks comfortable, it is
usually not very sexy, so it has to be also a balance between those elements
as well. If something is put into a design it has to have a function - the design
has to function. The function should be design.
KM: So you are looking at it almost as a design concept, rather than a beauty
No I am looking at both.
KM: When you first starting doing your own clothes, was it like you first thought
it was going to be like? Because clearly going from dressing shop windows to
fashion, I mean you would think that there is a bit of a relationship between
them isn’t there?
Well there is a...... a lot of designers did come from Window dressing.
Armani, Geoffrey Bean?? Halston, a lot of
KM: They are not the important one, we need the important ones?? (HA HA)
But I think that it had a lot to do with, and maybe that is why I do think about
the customer so much, when I am designing, because I was right there with
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Douglas Hannant, Hannant Fashion, New York