Juliette Hogan: Brand on the run

4 January 2017
By Fashion Quarterly

Hero

Juliette Hogan is branching out into eyewear design, the US market and motherhood.

@juliettehogan | juliettehogan.com

Eight weeks after the birth of her daughter, Myra, fashion designer Juliette Hogan spent her first day back in her Eden Terrace workroom. “First full day,” she corrects. “For the past couple of Mondays I’ve been doing half days. But I was never going to take six months off and have nothing to do with work. I love what I do too much.”

This revelation will come as no surprise to those who know Juliette. Famous for her extreme work ethic, she notes that throughout the pregnancy people were very interested in how she was going to approach the work/life balance.

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“It’s hard because whatever I say, it’s going to sound like I don’t think being a mother is purposeful, and I think being a mother is one of the hardest, most rewarding things you can ever do. But it’s important for me – and I think it will be important for Myra – that I have this creative outlet,” she says.

“Myra is the most precious thing in the world to me and I never want to be in a position where work is the be-all and end-all, but it’s wonderful to be back – my brand is like my first baby.”

Part of the reason she has been able to negotiate this new phase in her life so seamlessly is because of her time-management skills – another thing she’s famous for.

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“But being pregnant you have nine months to plan for something,” she points out. “Before Myra was born I ensured everything was set up so that no one would need anything from me for a couple of months, and I could just come and go as I am now.”

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A major project Juliette lined up before Myra’s arrival in July was the development of a Juliette Hogan Eyewear range. It was the first time she had designed something knowing that she wouldn’t be making it herself “and that made me really nervous,” she says.

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“I do all my own pattern drafting and all our sampling is done in-house, so everything we create under the Juliette Hogan label has always very much had my time invested in it. With the glasses I didn’t have a clue – it’s not what I specialise in.”

Juliette reached out to a premium Japanese manufacturer who interpreted her ideas into four styles and three fabrications. Launched in October, the range is exactly what she envisioned. “Every pair is beautiful and minimal and slightly masculine, and just so true to the brand’s aesthetic,” she says.

A model wearing Juliette Hogan Eyewear at the launch of the new brand extension in October.
A model wearing Juliette Hogan Eyewear at the launch of the new brand extension in October.

 

From the designer’s personal uniform of blonde ponytail, minimal makeup, and garments from her current (and occasionally forward-season) collections, to the merchandising in her three Auckland stores, and her consistent use of the Sierra filter on Instagram, the Juliette Hogan aesthetic is unmistakable.

It extends to the home Juliette shares with partner Dion, where candles, cushions, and photographic prints bearing the brand’s name are a fixture in every room – including the nursery, where baby rompers in key Juliette Hogan fabrications are displayed along the side of Myra’s cot.

In light of all this product diversification, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Juliette has her sights set on becoming a giant lifestyle brand, but she insists this isn’t her intention. “I’m a very selfish designer,” she laughs.

A model wearing Juliette Hogan Eyewear at the launch of the new brand extension in October.
A model wearing Juliette Hogan Eyewear at the launch of the new brand extension in October.

 

“When I need something I haven’t been able to buy, I create it. So with the baby clothes – I just wanted Myra to have beautiful things to wear and not in that typical, baby pink. Then I figured, well, if I like this then a few of my customers might too. It was the same with the cushions. I wanted cushions that could be like artworks for the couch that you could update every season. That’s basically how we keep introducing these little stories.”

The cushions scattered across Juliette’s sofa are encased in her summer collection’s namesake ‘Desert Storm’ print, inspired by a trip to the Mojave Desert in 2015. “I’d always wanted to go there,” she says. “I love wide open spaces, I’m much more of a landscape girl than a city girl.”

Despite this, Juliette’s autumn/winter 2017 collection is a nod to city living. “My seasons happen like that – I guess because during summer you spend so much time outside, so your clothing has to feel appropriate for that, whereas in winter you hunker down at home, which lends itself to a more urban aesthetic.”

Called ‘Shadow Play’, the forthcoming collection is a sophisticated exploration of lighting and texture, and she has a very good feeling about it.

A model wearing Juliette Hogan Eyewear at the launch of the new brand extension in October.
A model wearing Juliette Hogan Eyewear at the launch of the new brand extension in October.

 

“Generally every new collection becomes my favourite collection, but this time I’ve had other people tell me that it’s by far the best yet.”

True to form, Juliette has already had a few pieces made up so that she can road-test them herself – the rest of us will have to wait until February for the first drop to arrive in stores.
By this time, all going well, the brand will have stockists in Los Angeles, where Juliette and her business manager, Chantelle Mears, set up a showroom in November 2015.

The original plan was to expand into the East Coast of the USA, but the designer had a change of heart after spending time in LA and realising that, for all the body-con clothing and cosmetic fakery, “which doesn’t resonate with me whatsoever”, there’s a relaxed side to the culture that suits the brand to a T.

“There’s also the fact that Los Angeles is where most celebrity dressing happens,” says Juliette, who has never met a sequin she didn’t like. It was still a shock to the designer when, early in 2016, Taylor Swift wore a sequinned Juliette Hogan jumpsuit to Lady Gaga’s birthday party.

“That was quite unbelievable,” she recalls. “Taylor could have had her pick of anything and the fact that she chose to wear our design shows she’s not designer-driven. She’d probably never heard of us but she still picked up our clothes for what they were.”

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After 13 years in the business, it makes sense that Juliette feels like she’s finally hit her stride. While the brand has evolved, there have and always will be constants. “In terms of aesthetic, everything will always be pared back – I don’t do bells and whistles,” Juliette says.

“But it’s more the brand values. Juliette Hogan is a really polished, high-quality brand. The garments are very special pieces – treat pieces – and it’s been that way since day one.”

Words: Phoebe Watt
Photos: Michael James Rooke, Hamish Melville

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