Bella Hadid has got the Midas touch. Everything the supermodel turns her hand to seems to be an instant success, whipping her 12million strong Instagram army into a frenzy. It’s no surprise then that Los Angeles-based brand Chrome Hearts have tapped Bella for their latest collaboration. But this isn’t a case of a celebrity just putting their face to a brand, the supermodel has been firm friends with the owners and designers of Chrome Hearts – Laurie Lynn and Richard Stark – since she was a child, and counts their daughter, fellow designer Jesse Jo Stark as one of her best friends.
This much-hyped foray into design feels “natural” says Bella, designing clothes was always at the back of her mind. And as time went by she got more confident with it according to Laurie Lynn Stark. “I remember she brought in a sketch and was like, “I don’t know if we can actually make this” but then bam! – it got made. Bella really worked through the whole process, from the sketching to the fit to the business side.”
The collection, drawing from Warhol muses, the New York art scene in the 60s and 90s movies, features leather mini skirts, cropped hoodies, PVC hats, black cashmere skinny cardigans and a standout leopard print bondage inspired coat – a piece that was dreamt up by Bella but one that she never thought would make it to the shop floor.
And this first step into design is just the beginning. “Now it’s about Bella watching people’s reactions and seeing what sells and improving upon that for next time,” says Laurie Lynn. “We always hope that she stays and isn’t too busy to not move forward! Bella and Jesse bring a lot of attention to Chrome Hearts that’s needed, it keeps our legacy going.”
Bella, how did this collaboration start for you, what was the design process?
We’ve been family friends for a long time and Jesse and I have always had the same style, we’ve been wearing items like this since high school. She’s been perfecting this style since then and I’ve always looked up to her for fashion advice so once we started throwing ideas back and forth we realised that it would be amazing to do a collaboration together. I love designing, I always have. I love making pieces for friends and family and then seeing them wear them.
Did design feel like a natural progression following your modelling career?
I’ve always loved designing, so yeah it did. A couple of dresses that I’ve worn in the past on red carpets have been pieces that I’ve helped to design but having a collection like this feels incredible. The Starks are so lenient with me too, they’ve given me room to grow and I’ve learnt so much about the process behind a collection. Plus I’ve always loved Chrome Hearts, the designs are iconic.
What are your earliest memories of fashion?
My mom has always been a fashion inspiration for me and she’s always loved clothes but it wasn’t ever about how much she had or what she had, but the pieces that she kept – the special ones. She always told me that she was keeping the best stuff for me and my sister and that’s made me do the same, I always keep beautiful pieces. I love collecting. I never want to put out anything that I don’t fully back and trust and love, but I’ve always worn Chromes Hearts and loved what the brand stood for, that’s why this feels so natural for me
The collection is inherently sexy, did you want to celebrate female sexuality with your designs?
I don’t think it’s so much about female sexuality because what I think is so great about the collection is that a lot of it can be worn by men and women. It’s a women’s collection but guys love the bombers and the hoodies. The skirts are definitely sexy but that’s an ode to the 90s and old school Chrome Hearts. The bondage jacket was more of a thought I had that I can’t believe made it into production! It’s not so much about sex though, it’s a powerful, statement piece – being cool and comfortable in yourself but being a badass at the same time.
You’ve said that the collection combines strength and femininity, two traits that haven’t always been considered mutually exclusive. Why did you want to play up both?
With everything that is happening now with feminism I think it’s ridiculous for people to say, “oh that’s a boy’s hoody”, or “that’s a girl’s hoody” – if you’re a guy and you want to wear a cropped hoody then go for it. But that’s also Chrome Heart’s legacy – they’ve been fluid for thirty years. It’s about a women being able to put on a tough men’s leather jacket but still look sexy in it. That’s the best part about Chrome Hearts and that’s what we’ve really tried to keep within the collection.
And you’ve referenced the 90s and 60s too, what was on your mood board?
It was a wide variety. Jesse and I love movies – Jesse constantly has Breakfast At Tiffany’s playing on the TV and we watch a lot of 60s movies. It’s all about the details though, we might pick out a collar on a jacket from (90s movie) Cry Baby or a tiny detail from a ’96 Alaia collection and be inspired by that. Then we put all of these points together and try and create something different.
Does being old friends add a point of difference to the collection, a personal touch?
Definitely. Chrome Hearts is family to me, and growing up we were all so close – Laurie is like my second mom. I think if someone else came in and asked them to make this crazy expensive jacket they wouldn’t necessarily listen to them but with me there is trust there, and we can then talk about it and expand my ideas. There’s really no boundaries of what we can do together – and that’s because the trust is there.
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