LONDON, United Kingdom — Alexandra Hadjikyriacou’s knitwear label House of HAD, now in its third season, draws on the designer's Cypriot background for its aesthetic point of view and manufacturing. The brand’s ready-to-wear collection of relaxed, lightweight trousers modelled on tracksuits, body-con dresses, cropped tops, tunics and oversized coats are canvasses for complex patterns rendered in highly restricted palettes.
Hadjikyriacou’s graphic style was born when, on a break from the fashion MA at London's Central Saint Martins, she found herself admiring football scarves at an Apollon Limassol game and decided to look up the factory that produced them. “I found them in the yellow pages. I walked into the factory and it was amazing — a huge warehouse with four massive Shima [knitting] machines, yarns everywhere and an area with sewing. I thought, ‘This is where I am going to make my collection.’ I would program my drawings into the machine, which would knit them out like a printer and I started playing around with it, cutting it up, putting it on the overlocker, stitching it up again. I whipped out a whole collection just by experimenting. Programming it all took me about three weeks, then it took me less than a month to do the whole collection.”
For her Autumn/Winter 2014 collection, Hadjikyriacou created what she refers to as “the barcode knit, black and white and then blue and black with stripes. I wanted to bring out the DNA of the scarf factory in the pieces. It was also inspired by tracksuits because I like having a look that appears like a uniform, but when you separate them they look like different pieces.” For Spring/Summer 2015, the designer is using lighter-weight yarn to make semi-sheer oversize tops, wide-leg trousers and cut-out dresses. “The whole collection is in rayon because I wanted it to drape. You can wear it on the beach, then roll it up and leave it to dry. I was inspired by the hot weather in Cyprus. I like to have themes for each collection. Spring/Summer is: ‘Driving through a sunset in a Bentley on a dusky evening.’ I have taken the colours from that and there are car fronts depicted on the garments.”
Initially a textiles student, Hadjikyriacou first turned to fashion when tutors at Central Saint Martins noticed her innovative fabric development at her BA degree show (which played creatively upon outmoded Cypriot silk-making techniques) and invited her to apply for the fashion MA. However, though her ideas were good, she and her tutor, professor Louise Wilson, decided she needed to take time out to gain real experience. “She said, ‘You have a lot of great ideas here, but it’s hard for you to execute them because you haven’t got the experience.’”
Hadjikyriacou went off and learned how to create a collection from start to finish through internships at Preen and Tom Ford. (She never finished the MA, but Wilson, later, wrote Hadjikyriacou an email offering the designer her blessing and saying she had achieved the equivalent of completing the course. Hadjikyriacou has the email printed and framed on her wall).
For this month’s Spotlight, Hadjikyriacou has experimented with embroidery to create her custom BoF logo. “I wanted to embroider onto a swatch I had to see what the texture would look like and I thought it was a good opportunity to try it out on the logo,” she explained.
Now, with a fledging network of stockists — including Primative in London, Stunning Allure in Japan and Elodie.K in LA — Hadjikyriacou has set about building an online shop and aims to show at London Fashion Week.
Looking further ahead, she has big ambitions to turn House of HAD into a lifestyle brand. “Like my mum’s business as an interior designer, she sells a lifestyle; she does everything, even down to picking out the magazines. My dream would be to have a shop where I’m selling knitwear and blankets and things beyond that.”