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Hollie Bowden Has Mastered the Unexpected

An oversized rosary, a shredded Margiela dress, and many chunky platform boots—and that's just the start of the interior designer's incredible collection of vintage and designer pieces.

Suzannah Pettigrew
Hollie Bowden Has Mastered the Unexpected
Hair & Makeup:
Erika Freedman
Interior Designer:
Hollie Bowden

Hollie Bowden had an epiphany during an early moment in her would-be career as a stylist. She was on set, assisting Karen Clarkson, when she realized: "I don't want to dress models. I just want to wear it all." Years later, after establishing herself as a foremost interior designer and founding a studio and adjoining gallery in Shoreditch, she has curated the kind of wardrobe most people working in fashion would sell their souls for.

The talents that distinguish her as a self-described interiorist—mainly her drive to hunt rare, unique, and obscure pieces and her uncanny ability to pair them in the most unlikely combinations—make her an incredible fashion collector. As such, there is a cohesion between the spaces she decorates and the way she styles herself. “I like the scheme of what the project is and what I'm wearing to sync a little bit because it feels right,” she explains. “It feels like a kind of language.” Her taste is distinctive and yet difficult to define; the main throughline being an appreciation for vintage and a love of the unexpected. She’ll wear a lush green coat by ’60s and ’70s bohemia designer Bill Gibb with a painted halter top by the lavender-haired contemporary experimental artist Claire Barrow and pants from Found and Vision, her friend’s vintage shop. Similarly, she has styled her studio with a worn-down English table, a bright yellow felt Gaetano Pesce chair, and a religious sculpture. “That should not make sense, but it totally does," she comments.

Bowden always had a strong sense of what she wanted to wear. Growing up as a competitive show jumper, she even found ways to personalize her riding attire, always opting for dark green and sewing her name into her high collar. She would use her show-jumping earnings to buy Diesel and Versace at Portobello Market, establishing relationships with vintage dealers she maintains to this day. Her signature Buffalo boots and silver Polo Sport jacket caught the eye of a young FKA Twigs when they were at school together. Today, Twigs and Bowden are friends—Bowden designed her East London home—and the jacket is worth thousands. (Sadly, Bowden doesn’t know where hers went.)

Over the span of our conversation, Bowden mentioned collecting over 25 brands and designers—from Issey Miyake (her first major luxury purchase) to the punky, cool kid jewelry maker Amy Rodriguez. Many, like Dilara Fındıkoğlu, are personal friends whose careers she has seen flourish over the years. She jokes that her wardrobe is the perfect stop on the way to a themed party. “If they want PVC, if they want seventies, if they want girly, if they want punk, anything, I've got it in abundance,” she laughs. She recently moved into a six-bedroom townhouse and for the first time in her life, has a dedicated dressing room for her expansive wardrobe. “After years and years, I now have a room with everything I've collected: a room for belts, a drawer for hair bands, all my hats, hundreds of them have a spot,” she explains. I can’t help but envy her four-year-old twin daughters who will one day have access to racks of Vivienne Westwood and Margiela.

Bowden enlisted her friend, the creative director Yaz XL, to help curate her outfits for this feature. She described the shoot, which took place in her studio’s gallery space, as a kind of reinvention for her; with the help of Yaz, she rediscovered pieces she hadn’t worn since her pregnancy with the twins. “When I had the girls, my friend said to me, ‘Just hide your wardrobe for at least four years.’ I went, ‘Don't be ridiculous. Six months and I'll be back wearing that little leather skirt,’” she recalls. “She was absolutely right. They're just coming up to four, and this is the time that I've been able to be like, ‘Okay, Mum's back.’

Art Director: Yasmin Exall and Smiley Stevens / Managing Editor: Hilary George-Parkin / Casting Director: Yasmin Coutinho / Executive Producer: Marc Duron

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