Interview with Fashion Designer Pam Hogg

Haute couture risen from the ashes of a blitz kid youth: Pam Hogg talks re-purposed archive pieces, Pussy Riot and the art of being defiant

In collections that are unmistakably hers, designer Pam Hogg creates hand-made pieces born from a political and personal aesthetic. Her style is a collision of post-punk and artistic sensibility formed from a background in the arts, in music, and as the darling of the London Club scene. She began her career as a self taught designer wearing her own creations to Blitz, a haven for outsiders and explorers, where men with crimped hair and cowboy boots rubbed shoulders with Boy George in Kabuki make-up. This was pea-cocking turf, a heady meeting of smoke and strangers outdoing one another in lame, latex and leather. Fashion was a provocative statement of creativity, dressing up for dressings up sake, and in the bid to out-do, cat suits and slices of flesh did. Late nights repurposing, reusing and reviving, caught eyes and turned heads and started events in motion that led to her sucess as an established designer today. We caught up with Pam Hogg to discuss that immediate, that refreshing conceit that defines her work, the politics that drive her, and the impact her collections have on her audience, and on the fashion industry itself.

Hogg insists she’s not politically outspoken, yet her work, both in inspiration and execution, insists she is. Perhaps this reluctance to accept the tag of anarchist is a reluctance to accept that fashion isn’t also a voice of continuous dissent. A dispute of frivolity to be answered in slogans and placards, through the aesthetic of protest, the runway a soapbox for those who find their voice through fabric and flesh. It’s this energy that inspires her work—some youthful spirit not dampened by the bureaucracy of fashion, which seeks to restrain within limitations and budget, a set number of looks and a set text.

The dictating zeitgeist loses its power in Hogg’s presence. Instead, there’s continual development in her work that draws from tropes of sexuality, politics, and her pre-occupation with the female form. Her approach that is at once empowering and perverse, a celebration of life and lust etched out onto the landscape of the body. Longitude and latitude are mapped out through indelible seams where sheer panels meet; meridians and hemispheres mark contours of the body to redefine and sculpt this moving canvas cut and crossed with leather harness, this jigsaw puzzle of long limbs and geometric synergy. Mathematical attributes, measurements, type of cloth and the precision of cut meet with the magic of super heroes and living dolls, nightmares and dreams stamped onto the body in trade-mark barely there stockings. Practicality of wear becomes a discussion of the practicality of our world: religion, gender, equal rights, and conversations of politics begin with blood smeared nylon weft and hijab headdresses in hunched deformity.

Whatever surrounds Pam becomes her muse. Her inspiration for collections is a single spark that, when ignited, follows a train of thought to some unknown and wonderful destination. The dark recesses of the mind and the beauty that reside there played out in raw linen and tulle, a collage of colour and cloth stuck as political posters on the body, and where the body isn’t adorned there is nudity, a statement in itself.
Anna Sanders: Have you always used fashion as a means of political expression?

Pam Hogg: Every season I make a statement within my work, I am not politically outspoken but this is my way of saying how I feel about the world. In my SS14 collection for example, the first garments where military-like and made out of the cheapest fabric which I covered in blood and dirt – it’s actually my own blood on there – and the slogan on the back was ‘The soils of War’.

What was your motivation for your most recent collection?

I wasn’t originally meant to be showing, but then I was contacted by Amnesty asking if I’d give a nod to Pussy Riot within the collection and I was like ‘F*cks sake!’ of all the times not to be showing! I would have wanted to draw reference to Pussy Riot regardless and with the Russian games on it was perfect timing.
Fashion Scout give me a spot each season because they believe in me, I had originally said I couldn’t do it, but after hearing from Amnesty I rang them back and said I’ve changed my mind!

How did you prepare with such a short amount of time?

I only had three weeks, but I thought ok, I can do this! Two years ago I made balaclavas for a collection and didn’t use them, and Pussy Riots trademark is of course the balaclava. I always have loads of fabric lying around and I recycle all the time so all of the colorful pieces were constructed from past looks; I was taking archive pieces apart just to get that one piece of colour. For me, bright colour is a celebration of the gay community and I wanted to pay my respects and thank them for the richness that they’ve given our culture. I embroidered cardigans with their (Pussy Riot) name because if you wear the name Pussy Riot you’re making a political statement; you don’t have to do anything, if you’re wearing it you’re saying -‘Power On’

Like a team jacket to support a sports team.

Absolutely! Well look at this (turns to show her jumpsuit emblazoned with ‘Pussy Riot Rule’ on the back and ‘Courage’ on the front)

I love your jumpsuit!

I made this the night before the show.

I was about to ask if this was something you’ve made specifically for the show.

This was from ages and forever ago and I suddenly thought ‘What am I going to wear!’
I’d printed some t-shirts with ‘Courage’ on the front after the name of the collection so decided to do the same for this.

Why did you name your last collection ‘Courage’?
I was inspired by the fact that when they (Pussy Riot) came out of jail they were still defiant. They weren’t humble; they were like “We mean business”. How can you not support that? These are the role models today; these should be the role models of today.

It’s wonderful to have a feminist collection come out at a time when the topic is so prevalent and finally getting the press attention it deserves. Thank you.

What can you tell us about the second part of the AW14 collection?

The second part was all pieces that hadn’t made it on to the catwalk in previous years. My collections all merge because they’re like paintings, they’re Art for me. I don’t sit down and go “well this will sell this season” because that’s not me. I had a bank of pieces that I had started so I used them and changed them round and made them fit and then the very last section was actually about the church because Pussy Riot made a statement about the church. (Referring to the performance in Cathedral of Christ the Savior which was made into a video entitled “Punk Prayer – Mother of God, Chase Putin Away!”) They weren’t trashing the church, they did the best thing they could possibly do to make sure their voices were heard. And they were heard.

I noticed there was a lot of borrowing from other collections, they made such beautiful statements previously it was nice to see them again in a new context.

Thank you! You understood. That’s what Flo with the white and all the flowers was about. I did the piece last time with the ballerina, did you see that?

Yes, it was breath taking.

She just broke my heart, I took the outfit to her and she performed whilst wearing it and I was almost in tears, she was just so amazing. So Flo was my dove let’s say, it was Valentine’s Day.

Theatrics play a big role in your work, is that an important part of showing your collections?

Well if I feel it then I do it, I’m not going to do it just for the heck of it. If it’s not right for that time and for that collection then I won’t. If it’s right and I’ve got some statement to make then I will definitely, because this is the only opportunity I get to say something.

It’s important I feel when you have these creative outlets to use them.

Exactly. I was given an opportunity last season – everyone at fashion week was given the opportunity as it was running along the same time as the games – and I knew I couldn’t miss it. I knew it was imperative I did the collection even if it killed me, and it did, it just about killed me.

It must have been quite challenging, how did you approach it?

I work in this crazy motherf*cking fashion. When I’m feeling creative I just can’t stop. Some people design and there’s twenty outfits in this collection, there’s forty outfits in this collection and that bores me. I get an idea, I don’t know where it’s going to take me, and that’s the joy for me.

It must be nice to start this journey and not know where it’s going to take you.

It’s a journey, exactly that and that’s the thing, not knowing is the most genius thing and then suddenly it’s a surprise for me – and if it’s a surprise for me then it’s a surprise for everybody else. It’s like a gift. Someone said that to me once. It was this fantastic film maker; he came to my Paris show and said ‘Thank you. Thank you for the gift’ (laughs) I think that’s the most beautiful compliment you can get.

Project Tags


  • P

    Pam Hogg

    • B

      Beautiful Savage


      Inspired by this project? Showcase projects you’ve worked on and inspire other people.

      Like what you see? Be the first to leave a comment for Anna!

      Add comment
      Social Media Editor