Causin' A Riot - Interview with Pam Hogg

Causin’ A Riot

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Whether as a singer, a songwriter, director, fashion filmmaker, scriptwriter, designer, or muse; everything Pam Hogg has ever touched turns to blistering yellow gold

Not only was Pam Hogg a frontrunner of the flourishing, edgy and ground breaking fashion scene of London in the eighties, but a successful singer in numerous bands supporting the likes of Blondie and the Pogues. She was an integral part of the Punk movement and legendary London club scene of Punk and The Blitz. Her unrivalled original style, and unique look inspiring Ian Astbury of The Cult, Paula Yates, Siouxsie Sioux and Debbie Harry. Today she also happens to be not only one of the coolest but one of the most respected fashion designers in the business.

This season in a room filled with rock royalty, fashion heroins, club kids, artists and devoted admirers; Pam Hogg presented one of the most powerful collections of London Fashion Week.

As I sit down to discuss her current collection for Pussy Riot, and what the future has in store, its impossible to not get more than a little star struck by her limitless talent, effortless avant garde and that iconic blonde ambition which continues to be such an inspiration to many and to me.

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You were approached and personally requested for your most recent collection by Amnesty International to create a collection dedicated to Pussy Riot. What was your initial reaction to the offer?
They contacted me to give a nod to Pussy Riot, not to design a collection, perhaps a model wearing a balaclava or something like that! But it was three weeks before the start of London Fashion week and I’d decided not to show so that I could concentrate on a selling collection for the next season.
I was in complete turmoil!!! Fashion week was running alongside the Russian games so I felt compelled to do something. My first thought was how I felt about the day they were released from prison, how they were still defiant despite the obvious danger. I realised then that the collection was going to be a complete dedication to them and named it COURAGE.

There was not a lot of time for you to complete the collection! How long did it take you from start to finish? Can you talk me through your process?
PAM HOGG: It was crazy, I don’t have any assistants and hadn’t taken on students so I was completely on my own. The decision to put on a show rather than make a full collection was the only way I felt it could work in such a short time frame. I had several pieces that never made it onto the catwalk because they were unfinished or the model had been delayed. Nothing I do is trend based, everything works together in a seasonless fashion… so I decided to work on ten of these garments and create ten new colourful outfits as a celebration of gay culture. I used all the scraps of fabric I had lying around in my studio and even unpicked archive pieces to get the colours I needed.

Like Pussy Riot the collection is completely fearless, bold and extremely bright, but there are also moments of beautiful pure white tulle and gold. Where did you first look for inspiration to create the collection?
Most pieces in this section had already been created and I just re styled or further embellished them to give a new interpretation. The gold pieces are a reflection of the church in all its finery, highlighting what should be the preaching of love and understanding and acceptance and harmony. I used the Amnesty slogan „Love is a Human Right“ as a way to express how I feel religion should embrace all and not condemn and isolate.

Your collections have always been about making a statement and standing up for what you believe in. For me you were the perfect match as a designer to create and represent that same power and impact that Pussy Riot have had. Was that something you focused on when creating the collection? What was the most important message for you to get across?
Yes, that was the whole point, I was doing it specifically to give support and awareness to the statements Pussy Riot were making. Tolerance is vital, the most important message for me to make was that everyone can live in harmony if they accept that its the differences between us that makes for a rich and fuller society.

You had mentioned in other interviews that before you were approached by Amnesty International that you were taking a season out to put together a more commercially / financially focused collection. Can you give us any hints about what that collection might consist of in the future when its created?
I work within constant change so the ideas have moved on just as they would have done if I had been concentrating solely on that collection. I’ll be starting again, its just a feeling at the moment and a continuation of the previous concept, but it wont really evolve until I find and establish my fabrics.

For so many and me personally you have long been someone who I have idolised and looked up to greatly not only to emulate and admire for your image and style, but your strong and provocative edge as a powerful female icon, who is not afraid to make a statement.
Thank you,  it means a lot knowing that what I do has meaning for others and gives inspiration as its a dark road sometimes.

Your best friends include other such icons like Debbie Harry and Siouxsie Sioux, not to mention the long line of admired and rebellious woman like  Kate Moss and Lady Gaga who have worn your catsuits. Do you see yourself as being a female leader? Do you feel pressure when you’re working on your collections to represent that side? and by having such an legendary past, present and of course future surrounding you? 
When I’m working I think of nothing except the ideas that swirl and formulate in my head and how I’m going to express them, its almost like a puzzle I have to solve. I feel a duty only to myself to give life to my work with the best of my ability. I don’t see myself in terms of female or male, but I allow myself to be vulnerable and in that state retain a truth in what I’m doing which can be dark at times but ultimately I feel gives strength.

What advice would you give to young girls today starting out in the music and or fashion industry?
If it’s something that you cant live without then put your whole self into it and never give up, otherwise fix your dreams on something else. Believing in what you’re doing is paramount.

You are widely respected across the fashion world as “one of the most original, inventive, creative designers in Britain”. When did you know that you had become a fashion designer? What would you say was your most daring collection that you have created?
I never intended to be a fashion designer, I was focused on fine art which came naturally to me, but I was also intuitively making clothes from a very young age so eventually it all just fell into place and took its own direction.

I suppose I could be seen as daring in my approach as I have no fear or worry of anyones expectations of me, but I don’t really see my work as daring, I think of it more in terms of intensity or fragility.

You’ve said in interviews before that music was your first love, can we ever expect to see you back in the studio, or better… on the stage?
I actually performed in a tiny club in NY a few months ago. It was completely impromptu, I’d written a song about twelve years ago so sad I had no intentions of anyone hearing it, but my friend who is an amazing concert pianist dragged it out of me one day and improvised a most haunting background to it. He was playing that night and persuaded me to sing, I thought I’d cleared the room but when I opened my eyes everyone was standing there in silence almost in tears. It made me realise I still have a passion for it and have since felt the desire to write again so you never know.

Lastly every collection you create is entirely unforgettable and aimed to leave an impact. Over the years titles for your collections have included ‘Best Dressed Chicken in Town’, ‘And God Created Woman’ and ‘Wild Wild Women of the West’ to name but a few. Can you give us any hints about what statement your next collection might reflect?
What I see around me has an impact and thats what drives me to create. It can be an injustice or a tender moment or a song or a book or film, I have no idea what will inspire me in the future months and Im not totally aware of how it will impact and fuse with all the past inspirations when it does, its like a mystery trip, I just allow it to happen, thats the beauty of it.

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Words by Tracy Kawalik and Pam Hogg
Cover Photo by Rankin
Article Photos Courtesy of Simon Aarmstrong & Adrenus Crayton

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