Henry Holland knows how to tell a brilliant story. After all, his entire empire found flight from sharp one-liners gliding to the punchline with Eagle-like speed. By 2007, every dahling in town was day-glowing it-up, radiating slogan-shirts that shouted, “Do me daily, Christopher Bailey” and “Suck on my toe, Phoebe Philo.”
This self-referential joke upon his own industry, became the running narrative in Henry’s eponymous brand, House of Holland. The label struck a convivial-punch at fashion’s face, unpicked the threads of its poker-faced skin and wove the tale of youthful sass. Yet today, over 10 years since it was founded, Henry tells me that the House of Holland girl has grown up. “She has a new direction.. it’s why we titled Autumn/Winter18 ‘Grow Up!’. The HoH woman is less squat party, more cocktail party!”
Indeed, cocktail parties are certainly where you’ll find Henry and his collective of bold, vibrant fan-girls. Their new-found love of all things chic brings Henry to his latest collaboration; the beautifully decadent elderflower liqueur brand, St-Germain. “Camille approached me about collaborating on Maison St-Germain. She wanted my individual take on their immersive concept: an experience that invites visitors to visually step inside a St-Germain bottle”.
With Henry’s verbal, visual and creative storytelling credentials, “he was first-choice on our list of collaborators” explains Camille. “House of Holland is colourful, bold, fun. Henry himself embodies the St-Germain lifestyle- an adventurous sense of joie de vivre. We wanted to give him total freedom to interpret his vision of us”.
Camille speaks with the joyful intonation of someone possessing a visceral love of life. “As soon as I met Henry, I knew he matched the world St-Germain encapsulates. So I took him out one night to talk about the collaborative project..we got on so well, it was like talking to a friend I’d known for a really long time..”
“You got me drunk!!” interjects Henry, intermingling Camille’s passion with his signature ebullience.
“That’s how I usually do it” Camille jests, climaxing the duo’s humorous tale. In the well-timed delivery of this unrehearsed double-act, the pair’s symbiotic pep is plain to see. Over a celebratory brunch, they’re a verbal explosion, flowing laughter through the table and sparkling with effervescence.
‘Grow’- possibly the most apposite description Henry could use for his resulting vision. “There’s 1,000 hand-picked elderflowers in every bottle of St-Germain. It’s the pollen from the flowers that gives the liqueur its rich golden colour. So I wanted to translate the sensuality of diving into a bottle; to evoke the amazing smells of French elderflower meadows; to visualise the discovery of a sensory other-world.”
The result? Henry has brought an “endless elderflower meadow” to Mayfair’s elegant Grosvenor Square. In one room, an enchanting maze of rich, vibrant botanicals sweep their ephemeral life in a sensate overload of cascading exotica and familiar fauna. Wonderland eccentricity meets French Surrealism as living hands reach out from the floral hollows to delight guests with classic St-Germain Spritz cocktails. Next, Henry the storyteller pays homage to the ultimate St-Germain narrative in an elusive octagonal mirror-room, discovered by delving through the maze layers. Replicating the eight-sided shape of St-Germain’s art-deco bottle design, guests enter an endless mirage where potent florals climb from the ground, hazy pastoral sounds float through the air and colours fade in a gradual cycle of early light to subtle nightfall. This secret-chamber brings to mind the sublime aesthetic of a Sofia Coppola film, encapsulated by the timelessness of a perfect moment; dizzily floating memories that stretch out forever.
Of course, the affect of this mesmerising dreamscape is fully intentional- “Henry’s mirror-room embodies the idea of time being an illusion, those days when the hours disappear because you’re having a really good time. One moment you’re chatting, relaxing, sipping cocktails with a close friend. The next it’s the middle of the night and you’ve no idea where time went…nothing else matters- that’s the St-Germain spirit”, confirms Camille.
“I wanted guests to really get lost in the moment” Henry admits. “By the time they emerge into one of the two cocktail bars, they’ve smelt and tickled the unusual textures and colours of wild-growing flowers. They’ve been cheekily tempted- now they’re ready to taste them.”
Delicate and beautiful cocktails conceived by Camille include Henry’s personalised drink The Free Lane, combining St-Germain with Grey Goose La Poire, lime juice, rhubarb bitters, grapefruit bitters and Pear Sassy Cider. “Camille asked me what tastes I liked. I was like.. well, er currently I’m eating broccoli and chicken, how will that work in a cocktail!?” laughs Henry in typical bold humour. “Camille is so talented that she did a bit more questioning and created a drink that has all the flavours I truly love.” The Free Lane is an alluring, wild blend. It’s carefree yet compelling with a cheeky twist- like the friend you love to hang-out with.
And who wouldn’t want to hang-out with good friends in the enchanted surrealism of Maison St-Germain? Henry’s even designed a pair of printed silk-pyjamas to mark the collaboration. Botanical prints from HoH’s latest collection are juxtaposed against classic Breton stripes to reference St-Germain’s roaring 1920s influences. These PJs should definitely be paraded beyond bed! Camille herself works a bohemian-chic aesthetic as she garbs herself in her HoH pyjamas, sipping upon cocktails and inviting guests into the Maison. “I feel like I live here”, she beams. She’s not the only one to wish for permanent residence in St-Germain’s playful, spellbinding Maison. Here you want to soak-up every joyfully decadent moment. As the back of Henry’s PJ’s state “sleep when you’re dead”.
By Charlotte Brohier