Lena Hoschek – 1950s Fashion on the Catwalk

This blog is purely self-indulgent as I love any excuse to drool over images of Lena Hoschek’s world.  I use the term world because Lena incorporates her distinct style into all aspects of her branding, so not only are the collections of clothes stunning, but her seasonal photography, catwalks, website and even her own personal style are all sights to behold.  Anyone who has read my blog before will know that I love following vintage inspirations on the catwalk and Lena Hoschek is simply everything I love all rolled into one fabulous package!  Beautifully crafted clothing (apparently she was taught a relatively complicated pattern cutting technique whilst working at Vivienne Westwood) which perfectly combines eccentricity with ladylike class – a fantasyland playing with the stereotypes of femininity.

I digress, the reason I have chosen to focus on Lena now is because she has finally unveiled her online shop which is such a pleasure for those of us who have coveted her website for so long in anticipation of this!  Although indulging in this past time does involve a lot of self-control (and hiding of credit cards).  To fully appreciate the online shop, you have to put it in context of her catwalk collection and photoshoot as certain items pair together to create the most magnificent outfit .  Still a relatively new designer, I want to have a look at some her key (and my favourite) peices from her collections so far.

Lena Hoschek launched her latest collection AW11 at Berlin Fashion Week earlier this year and I am going to start with my absolute favourite dress from this collection and perhaps of all time from her.

Perfect for bridal or it could be dressed down for a less formal look.  This dress is very similar to original 1950s bridal and evening wear and the delicate lace is such a beautiful shade which is a perfect deep colour for winter whilst also having a slightly aged effect.  This dress reaches the compromise of simple yet stunning in such an understated manner.

I am also a huge fan of florals and Lena has managed to work these into her AW collection so beautifully with a rich Autumnal colour palette.  Florals are a frequent staple of Hoschek’s work and it’s wonderful how she manages to integrate these into her second collection of the year without looking like summer cast offs.  The lovely fabric below works so well as a pencil silhouette as it would perhaps be simply too busy for Lena’s preferred circle dress shape.

Whereas the below fabric is more subtle in its colouring with some gentle dashes of red to add detail which is far more suitable to the movement in the circle silhouette.

Throughout this whole collection, warm florals and deep reds were dominant.  Styles are wearable and she is using her trademark 1950s inspiration in a less self-aware manner as the clothes are less ‘cartoonish’ and blend well with contemporary trends.  This is not necessarily better, as I personally love the slightly more eccentric take on the 1950s however it is good for day-to-day peices and to incorporate the style into one’s life without looking too cliche.

For any fan of 1950s pin-up style, Lena’s SS11 collection is simply to die for.  This is definately the boldest collection of her career and she has allowed herself to go all out – presumably the rise of 1950s fashion meant that for once she had competition on the catwalk.  Bettie Page is clearly the woman she had in mind when designing this collection as it personifies Page’s innocent girlishness and yet overtly sexual character.  A collection which has to viewed on video to appreciate as Hoschek had lots of tricks up her sleeve for this catwalk – when models turned around their hands were bound in S&M style, the girls had on shiny tights which gave their legs a wet look, prim and proper outifts  had what can only be described as kinky tights that come into view when the model turns and conservative skirts with zips on the rear.

This collection marries the two extremes of Page’s image.  I shall first have a look at the more risque elements on this catwalk.  Throughout the whole collection there is a frequent use of studs.  It is an interesting contrast to have such sexualised styles with what can only be viewed as a protective barrier.   This is a comment on Lena’s complex vision of femininity which in one hand celebrates the female body in what can only be described as a conventional pin-up/lads mag aesthetic but simultaneously makes this image inaccessible in a physical and therefore metaphorical sense.  As a bleach-blonde, make-up loving, radical feminist, I personally love this depiction of modern woman which displays the feminine dilema in such visual eloquence.

In contrast to this S&M theme, is an innocent girlishness which consists of conservative 1950s hem lengths, candyfloss pinks and pastel floral patterns.  Again, this aptly represents Page who was a dedicated Christian and gentle soul when not being caught in scandelous positions for photographers.

I really think that this collection will be Lena’s statement season for many years to come.  It was so perfectly executed and put together that it will be very hard to beat indeed.  Even the photography for this season (which can be found in the catalogue and on Lena’s wesbite) has been so intricately thought through to encapsulate all aspects of this style featuring tattooed pin-up style models and kitsch locations.  All a far cry from the usual emaciated, lifeless models of high fashion.

The collection prior to this, AW2010, had quite a distinctly different feel as it was influenced by the more demure decade of the 1940s.  It is interesting to see Hoschek work with this decade as I am accustomed to seeing her work with a more light-hearted nature and emphasis on fun.  The palette is much more conservative which gives the collection a sense of being mid-war with the idea of rationing in mind.

There is clearly still an element of humour though in mind with quirky fabrics, such as the lipstick scarf, and props, usually in the form of tartan umbrellas.  And as usual, Lena has her dashes of red throughout to add sparks of vibrancy to the collection.

There is also a much stronger element of androgyny in this collection as masculine influences are more prominent and even the dresses and skirts are not as ‘girly’ and coquettish.  The dresses are still feminine but lack the overtly immature and playful quality of her later collections.

These dresses sat comfortably beside some of the far more masculine looks.  Showing that not all vintage fashion has to be pigeonholed into either pin-up or hosuewife styles.

Lena Hoschek is perhaps an aquired taste, all of her collections that I have managed to see so far, from AW07, have had the same retro theme so if you are not a fan you will most probably not like her work.  However, if you are a fan of 1940s through to early 1960s fashion, she will fast become your guilty pleasure.  Reminiscent of the days of Dior and other fabulous designers who dominated the mid-20th century catwalks with circle skirts and polka dots (with no irony).  Hoschek may not be every fashionista’s cup of tea as her signature looks remain relatively staple – a sin amidst the constantly evolving headache of styles going in and out of Vogue faster than any sane person can shop.  For those such as myself however, her new online shop is a small haven to pass a lunch hour and dream up reasons to buy dresses far too expensive for my usual past time of sitting in old man pubs.  Have a browse around her online shop here http://shop.lenahoschek.com/  Lena Hoschek is a breath of fresh air in the world of high end fashion and I hope her collections continue to be huge successes!

About Lady JoJo's Boutique

A vintage-inspired boutique in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town with Online Shop. Visit us at http://www.ladyjojosboutique.com
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