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Unconventional Designs by Hogan McLaughlin

Born in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois, Hogan McLaughlin began drawing and dancing at age two. He continued training as a dancer throughout his childhood before joining the contemporary ballet company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, at age 16. There he had the opportunity to tour internationally and work with some of the world’s top artists and choreographers. Upon leaving the company in 2009, Mr. McLaughlin moved to New York to pursue a career in visual art working in large-scale ink pieces, some reaching nine feet tall.

In 2011, he met artist Daphne Guinness on Twitter who was taken by his Goreyesque illustrated book, The Homicidal Heiress. Shortly after, he was given the opportunity to produce fashion pieces based on his illustrations. Aided by stylist GK Reid, two of his drawings were brought to life for a film and photo shoot with Markus Klinko and Indrani, featuring Ms. Guinness. The pieces were later featured in the windows of Barneys New York as a part of Ms. Guinness’ personal installation, and from there, were installed in The Museum at F.I.T.’s Daphne Guinness exhibition.

In September of 2011, he released his first 8-piece fashion collection and had the pleasure of dressing Ms. Guinness for F.I.T.’s opening event. Hogan currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is working to establish and expand his label, Hogan McLaughlin. This past weekend I had the chance to enter in Hogan’s world for a few minutes and ask him a few questions:

Mr.G: Hogan McLaughlin, first of all is a pleasure to have you here with us at Metrovelvet and thank you very much for taking the time to do this exclusive interview. Hogan could you tell us a little more about yourself… for example, how’s a regular day in Hogan’s life?

Hogan McLaughlin: There are very few regular days lately. I travel a lot so I’m never in one place for more than a month. The collection is made in Chicago with my amazing production-partner and pattern maker extraordinaire, Branimira Ivanova, so when I’m there I spend most of my time sketching and planning out new ideas while she oversees the execution of the garments. (On a side note, my label would not exist without her expertise and above all, friendship.) I also have a place in New York with my sister where, when I’m not taking meetings, I again spend most of my days sketching- there’s hardly a day when I don’t.

Mr.G: How would you describe your philosophy about fashion?

HM: I think, when done well, it is such a beautiful art form. I’m fascinated with the way it defines historical societies, whether someone knows it or not- studies on various royals always note their extravagance, those that explored new cultures often addressed what they wore and how they looked before any other fact, even war and battle experts study fashion in terms of armor and era. It’s something that is the most obvious form of identity and individuality and has a huge impact on every culture, and if I never achieve that impact, I at least hope that it can be said that I made some beautiful works of art.

Mr.G: How do you think your previous interest as a professional dancer influences your fashion design?

HM: Having a career as a professional dancer gave me a heightened sense of myself and my body, as well as others I performed with. You get to know every contour of the human form, how the muscles move, therefore helping, and using, the body as a canvas before a design idea even comes to mind. I think that’s why my pieces are particularly “body-conscious”.

Mr.G: Which fashion designers have influenced you?

HM: I draw a lot of inspiration from historical motifs, and costume designers that do the same. Colleen Atwood’s work for Tim Burton is stunning, Michele Clapton, Ngila Dickson, all enormously inspirational designers. As far as current fashion, Riccardo Tisci, John Galliano, Jean-Paul Gaultier- people who have an elegant way of thinking outside the box.

Mr.G: When you create something, what goes through your mind? Or how do you find inspiration before you start a design?

HM: I always begin with a sketch of the body, and then let the lines do the talking for me. I love using lines and seams as design staples. They direct your eye in a way that is almost like following a map. I generally don’t approach a collection with a theme in mind, though.

Mr.G: How does it feel to have done designs for Daphne Guinness and Lady Gaga? What experiences did you take from it? Which other VIP would you like to design for?

HM: It’s an out of this world feeling. I love working with Daphne because she is such an amazing person, and so full of love. I didn’t get the chance to meet Lady Gaga, but it was a great challenge, and I mean that in the best way possible. I was asked to create pieces using materials and techniques that I had never used before, pushing my creativity in a new way. As far as people I would like to dress, I have some dream clients but really want the person, whoever they may be, to want to wear the pieces because they love them, and not because a slew of assistants tell them to.

Mr.G: How best would you describe your personal style?

HM: I like to collect jackets and shoes. The key is proper tailoring- like in my collections, I like for everything I wear to fit perfectly. I’ve collected some really great pieces, but my favorite is a Balenciaga motorcycle jacket from a while ago. It’s gotten a good beating over the years but that’s what’s great about it. Other than jackets and coats, I wear the same t-shirt and jeans combination most every day. Rick Owens makes the most comfortable t-shirts, so I tend to not want to wear anything else.

Mr.G: What are some of your favorite fashion websites, magazines, books and music?

HM: I like magazines like Muse and Numero. I was recently introduced to a magazine called The WILD. It’s pretty awesome. I’m ashamed to admit that I’m not a regular book-reader. It’s no secret, if you visit my Tumblr page, that I am an avid “Game of Thrones” fan. In a month, I read the whole “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, the books which the show is based on. They are hefty books too but I couldn’t put them down. As far as music, I definitely love to listen to a wide variety of sounds. Most of my good friends are fantastic musicians, so we have regular jam sessions. I’m a (poorly) self-taught piano player, and trained vocalist, so I contribute where I can.

Mr.G: Hogan for you, what is exciting in fashion right now?

HM: The amount of young voices speaking, and the industry insiders who are willing to hear them.

Mr.G: Is being young an advantage or disadvantage in fashion?

HM: I think it’s both. On one hand you have so much at your fingertips- so much to explore and, hopefully, so much time to do so. On the other hand, it’s hard to be recognized when competing with established houses.

Mr.G: So, what’s next for Hogan…any upcoming projects you can share with us?

HM: Our next collection is being released in early May, which I’m very excited about. We were going to wait until couture week in July, but have decided to adopt sort of a different schedule. After that, the following collection is expected to release later in October. In between, we are working on custom pieces for amazing clients and their tours and promotional images. Things are always busy, which is awesome.

Mr.G: Where do you see your brand in the next five years?

HM: I can’t really say. I’d love to have a small but loyal following of buyers and clients. My goal is not to become the next household name. There are too many strings that come attached to that, and I’d like to be able to keep my creativity intact. I’d love to costume a period-piece movie or series. I’m leaving the future open- in my recent experience; you definitely never know what might happen for you next.

Mr.G: Finally, do you have any fashion advice or styling tips you could give to our readers?

HM: Tailoring. Know your body; tailor your clothing to fit it. Know what flatters you, not what you think you should be wearing because your friend is wearing it. Anyone can look good if they understand what works for them.

Mr.G: Well Hogan once again I will like to thank you, for taking the time to be with us, good luck and best wishes!

Special thanks to Lisa Lawrence for making this possible.

Mr.G / Luis Soto
Co – Fashion Editor

Photo of Hogan McLaughlin by Jay Marroquin