Hodakova’s spring/summer ‘24 collection offers a tongue-in-cheek take on office core, ripped apart at the seams and refashioned for the emboldened individual, pens included.
Office supplies are having a moment. While AVAVAV embraced the post-it, Hodakova set its gaze on the humble ballpoint pen. For spring/summer ’24, designer Ellen Hodakova, who is known by now for using everyday objects in her collections, crafted a blouse, skirt and a red carpet-worthy floor-skimming gown (worn with panache by Swedish model Usrula Wågander) from pens – in which the writing utensil becomes a sort of industrial fringe. “The pen holds a special place in my life as a symbol of authentic self-expression,” says Hodakova. “I’ve always been drawn to the act of writing by hand, as it allows for a deeply personal connection to one’s thoughts and ideas.” In total, over 2,000 pens were used.
This is Hodakova’s take on office attire – an ironic conceit from the jump, considering that pens are becoming more and more obsolete in modern office life. “This collection isn’t confined to a specific workplace,” says Hodakova. “It’s about encouraging individuals to write their own stories and embrace the limitless possibilities that life offers.”
These employees are hardly donning generic suiting (these suit jackets are double-breasted with flattened collars and skim the floor). Rather, Hodakova’s workers tear apart trousers at the seams, refashioning them into dramatic pleated skirts. Jacket linings explode into silk dresses, the jacket itself forming the asymmetric hem. The designer’s beloved belts, another nine-to-five staple, become form-fitting mini dresses with shiny buckle trim. Meanwhile, teeny tiny dried flowers form an all-over print on a simple white dress and skirt suit, evoking the world beyond the office walls. “The incorporation of dried flowers into our designs was time-consuming, as we aimed to preserve their delicate beauty in each piece,” Hodakova notes.
Presented in a theatre setting at Théâtre de la Tour Eiffel in Paris, this is officecore turned upside-down. A topsy-turvy take on uniform dressing in which each model becomes a breakthrough individual. It’s a notion reflected in the casting, which finds women and men with striking looks, each ready to break out of the confines of menial desk labour. “It’s about the freedom to express oneself and find comfort in your own living space, rather than conforming to an idealised notion of perfection,” says Hodakova. To her, it isn’t the flashier garments of upcycled objects that define the show, but the simple black opening look, expertly tailored with sharp collar and ankle-length skirt with a trouser belt loops at its top and bottom. It “encapsulates the essence of the entire collection”.
In the office of Hodakova, nothing is as it appears. Waistbands become arm-constraining jackets, bras become clumpy minidresses and wristwatches – another commonly used material in Hodakova’s lexicon – adorn shoes. As the models march across the stage, we’re cheekily reminded of the constant passing of time. Still, this is Hodakova’s moment.
See the full Hodakova spring/summer '24 collection below: