Nelly Hoffmann’s mind seems to be filled with ideas that shift, transform and take on the shape of a complex puzzle.
Parisian, born to a Belgian mother and German father, she confesses that she is in love with Prada, the meaning of clothes and the power of Symbology.
She studied fashion at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne and was later picked up by Marc Ascoli to be part of the Rue du Mail studio with Martine Sitbon where she worked until last summer, when she won the YOOX award at the International Talent Support 2013.
Nelly Hoffman has her own ideas about femininity and she abhors clichés about what is sexy or attractive to wear. And she definitely is not what you’d call conventional. Everything about her work is different, original, unusual, exclusive, and according to her, tacky.
Funny and emotional, she doesn’t rely on empty words and vague adjectives to describe the ideas that inspire her to create. Nelly Hoffmann will tell you a story, a feature-length film, minus the names of the main characters, in order to make you understand every single intimate detail about her clothes.
An artist like that could have chosen any other medium to express herself, however, luckily for us, she chose fashion.
SO CATCHY!: Why did you choose to be a fashion designer?
NELLY HOFFMANN: That’s a way to make ‘pretty’ useful.
SC!: Define yourself in 4 words.
NH: culture, travel, happiness, experiments
SC!: Define the style of Nelly Hoffmann´s clothing…
NH: I try to tell a story in each collection, so it can be super different from a collection to another but there is always something tacky. And it’s always a game about how to get feminine far from cliche, I’m not sure that the sexiest way to get dressed is in a sticky tube dress and high heels.
SC!: What kind of woman do you have in mind when designing…
NH: Always a woman that physically exists.
SC: You have recently won the YOOX award at ITS… Could you describe your experience there?
NH: Its was really a great experience, it’s not just fashion, it’s more like a holiday camp for children, at the beginning you’re stressed as hell, “what if everybody hate me?! ” and then two days after, you’re super sad to be leaving all the ITS mates, and everyone is turning to their own lives, the 3 others girls I shared my room with where so fucking nice! …. and then I got that YOOX award! I have to admit that I’ve never seen a company so cool: everybody is young, nice and sexy! Come on! Looks like and advertising for the ideal company! It was really cool to work with them. And now, you can find the garments in limited editions on Yoox.com!
SC!: Can you explain the idea behind the collection you presented at ITS 2013?
NH: First, it wasn’t my collection for the diploma!
I made one outfit, while I was working in the Rue du Mail studio and I got selected on the picture of that outfit and on the sketches of the seven others. When I was informed that I got picked up, I understood that I had two months to make everything at home! It was super shitty because I didn’t have anything! Not even a sewing machine… I found some super nice companies in Paris, that really helped me getting through all of that mess and Glasman provided me an industrial machine, MPL and Poulain, two leather factories in France, gave me everything I needed.
Without that help I couldn’t do anything, I did all the collection for ITS with more or less 1000 euros and two months! I have to admit that I had lots of nightmares those two months! My flat was full of stuff, it was very dangerous to walk and nearly impossible because the floor was covered… My friends and parents helped me so much!! For example my friend Angelique stayed at my home just to help me… I know how important that help was and I haven’t figured out how to thank everyone yet. My best friend was my model, the photograph and the make-up artist were also some friends. In the end I have some really cool memories of that period but it seemed to last six months.
The collection is about a band of gangsters breaking into a church and plundering its symbols, fabrics and ornaments, in order to make their own protective armour – which reveal the urban origins of who wears them – to wrap themselves in a sacred and all-powerful aura in order to survive and reign over the urban landscape. Researching the outfits of hip-hop icons such as Run DMC and Booba, these are kings of the streets on their own personal crusade. I spend a lot of time in Rome with my boyfriend so I turned a bit mystical.
SC!: What are your upcoming projects?
NH: I am going to search to work on a studio of a big house, In Paris but also in Milan or in London. After reflection, I’m really ok to move myself in another country! i would love to work for Miuccia Prada, she forces the respect: the work she produces with her team is always so crazily perfect and cultured! I’m super excited about Nicolas Ghesquieres going to Vuitton, it’s going to be flawless!
SC!: Tell us how a day in your life is.
NH: euuh I’m not sure it’s going to be interesting! I wake up pretty early normally, I think I’m getting older because I don’t need any alarm anymore… my body has its own clock… I do all the normal things. Except for the coffee cause it makes me sick … I start with mails and a bit of actuality. And then a normal day of work depending on the priorities. I smoke a lot but I hate the smoky atmospheres so I usually to live with open windows, even if it’s snowing! In the evening, I usually meet my best friends to have dinner together and to finish in a bar. Two days ago, I went to the Olympia to see a concert of Major Lazer, it was CRA-ZY! Then, I take a bus and go straight to bed.
SC!: Where do you look for inspiration?
NH: I usually go to all the exhibitions, fairs, museums, vintage shops and libraries that I can find. If it turns out to be something interesting, I just note it and then I use the web to explore it until the limits and sometimes it’s really fun!
SC!: Your favorite fashion designer is…, and why?
NH: [She draws a heart with flames with the words Miuccia Prada inside], As you see, she always sets me on fire 🙂
SC!: What’s your favourite material to work with?
NH: I like to change so sorry but I have no absolute preferences on this field!
SC!: What are some blogs or websites about fashion you normally read to stay up to date (fashion, art, culture).
NH: La Gazette Du ‘Mauvais’ Gout, I’d love to meet Dora Moutot!, Contemporary Art Daily, and Them-thangs.
SC!: What do you want to do next?
NH: I just want to continue to collaborate with companies and personalities that I respect and which I admire the work. I really want to keep learning in the end!
Photos courtesy of Pierre Marchal, Maxence Boulart Cardon, Daniele Milvio
Model: Sara VP
Translated by Michael Padilla