As the temperatures here begin to creep up above coat-wearing temperatures, the yearly dread of stashing away the flannel and tweed begins to set in. Although a bit of sunshine is a welcome break to the monotony of cold and grey that overwhelmed many climates for the past few months, I do enjoy my fall and winter clothing. Linen and loafers are fine, but just not the same as the heavier stuff.
To help cure my woes, I dropped in on Creative Director, Niels Van Rooyen, at London’s legendary Holland & Holland last week to see the samples for next autumn’s offerings. I hesitate to call it “a collection,” because although things shift and change a little each year, Mr. Van Rooyen is careful not to make anything so “of the moment” that you won’t look stylish in it twenty years down the road. The official press day isn’t for a few weeks, but the ever-generous Niels insisted I stop by to check things out anyway.
History of Holland & Holland
For those of you who haven’t heard of Holland & Holland, they have been one of England’s finest gunmakers and outfitters since 1835. Mr. Harris Holland founded the firm, and his nephew Henry Holland opened the gun factory that they still use today in central London. Some of the most ornate offerings can take years to craft by hand. As someone who doesn’t shoot, the technical details and functionality of the guns are lost on me, but the objects themselves are enough to make one want to jump in a Land Rover and head to the moors post haste.
Mr. Van Rooyen has been with the company for decades, with a brief interlude following the takeover by Chanel. When the powers-that-be realized that turning the firm into a fashion brand wasn’t the way to go, he returned to the helm and restored the true country-lifestyle heritage to one of Britain’s great lifestyle brands. One of his first contributions upon his return was the introduction of the new house tweed last autumn, which is a recreation of a tweed worn by Henry Holland in a nineteenth-century portrait. It doesn’t get much more authentic than that.
Holland & Holland Fall/Winter 2011
The ethos of Holland & Holland is to produce everything one would need to live the quintessential British country lifestyle. This includes clothing and gear for hunting and shooting, clothing for before and after a shoot, as well as a full range of accessories. The center of all of this is, predictably, tweed. As I mentioned above, this began with the official house tweed, and this fall will see two new tweeds joining the mix. For the house tweed, the gentlemen’s and ladies’ tweeds are distinguished by a simple, elegant lilac overcheck, evoking the heather of the moors. But, this fall there will be two very different tweeds for the sexes. Men will get the option of a green and oatmeal herringbone with a rusty overcheck, while the ladies can indulge in a soft, delicate natural tone with blue and rust checking. Both are soft as can be, but unmistakably hearty.
As with all things Holland & Holland do, function is just as important as form. A beautiful gun is nice, but a gun that fires properly is critical. This is the same approach Mr. Van Rooyen takes to the clothing. Technical jackets feature the same tweeds as the more fashion-focused pieces, but with a waterproof inner membrane to keep you dry in the harshest Scottish downpour. Even the ends on the zips have a purpose. What at first looks like a branded metal loop is actually sized to dislodge a stuck cartridge in a pinch.
I’ll admit, though, that while the technical details are impressive, the pieces I can’t keep thinking about are a bit more suited to après than the field. In particular, both the printed silk scarves and the new, insanely indulgent 8-ply cashmere cable-knit scarves have been haunting my dreams. Yes, I said 8-ply cashmere. They are so thick and unbelievably soft that I nearly curled up with one and went to sleep below Bruton Street.
Hand-made and hand-crafted are taken for granted with Holland & Holland, even down to the most simple garments. Their shooting socks for instance are knitted by a group of women all over Britain, and occasionally they do special editions labeled with the breed of sheep from which the wool was taken, who knitted them, and where. It doesn’t get much more authentic than that, now does it?
Holland & Holland showrooms can be found all over the world. The most famous one is, of course, their main house in Bruton Street in London, but they also have their product range on display in New York as well as in Moscow. In case you wish to shoot your gun, Holland & Holland also provide their own shooting grounds not too far away from London.
The website can be reached at: www.hollandandholland.com
- Holland & Holland London
33 Bruton Street
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7499 4411
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7499 4544
- Holland & Holland – New York City
10 East 40th Street
New York, NY 10016
Tel: + 1 (212) 752 7755
Fax: + 1 (212) 752 6975
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 10:00am – 6:00pm
- Holland & Holland – Moscow
Skolkovskoe Shosse 31, Building 1
Tel: +7 495 937 4553
Fax: + 7 495 937 4553
Monday-Saturday 11:00am – 8:00pm
- Holland & Holland Shooting Grounds
Ducks Hill Road
HA6 2ST (Directions)
Tel: + 44 (0) 1923 825349
Fax: + 44 (0) 1923 836266
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30am – 5:30pm Saturday 8:30am – 5:30pm