Naomi Campbell wearing Hannah Marshall in Vogue Korea, August 2009

AW: Your collections convey a sense of female empowerment, how do you achieve this?

HM: I am constantly inspired by strong women such as Grace Jones, Siousxie Sioux, Tilda Swinton and Bjork; women that are unique, powerful, have conviction, integrity, a sense of strength and inner confidence.

Clothing is one of the strongest tools of communication, and I design clothes that empower women through sharp minimalist silhouettes, constructed from sleek but tactile fabrications, in any colour that fits into the monochromatic rainbow.

AW: In past collections youʼve explored the visual collaborations between Grace Jones and Jean Paul Goude, as well as body modification, can you tell us a little more about this?

HM: Pre-digital era, the legendary art director Jean-Paul Goude was a pioneer. My collection entitled “Army of Me” examines methods of attenuating and empowering the female form through designs that evoke the superhuman inuendo of his body of work. The sleek, androgynous persona of his former muse Grace Jones epitomises the very essence of the Hannah Marshall woman.

Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine wears Hannah Marshall

AW: Youʼve expressed your love for the shade of black, whatʼs so powerful about this colour?

HM: Black has its own code.
Black can hide well.
Black demands attention.
Black is the most powerful colour that exists.
Black says everything but gives nothing away.
Black is the strongest colour that defines the silhouette.

AW: How do women tend to respond to when wearing your garments?

HM: My designs almost have a transformative quality to them, rendering the female body to create a sharper silhouette that makes the wearer feel confident and on the sensual side of sexy, without being vulnerable.

Beth Ditto of the band The Gossip wears Hannah Marshall

AW: Youʼve earned a host of influential fans including Florence Welch, Beth Ditto, Naomi Campbell and Tori Amos; are you excited that such a diverse group of women have all responded to your designs?

HM: The women that wear my designs are incredibly diverse and their only common quality is their difference.

The most exciting moment has to be seeing the iconic cover of Wonderland magazine with the incredible Janet Jackson wearing the Spine Sleeve Dress that was custom made especially for her. I am a huge fan of all music ending with the surname Jackson, so I am very proud of this and thankful to the amazing Anthony Unwin for asking me to create a piece.

Janet Jackson wearing Hannah Marshall for the cover of Wonderland Magazine

I have dressed Florence and the Machine for performances, photo shoots and videos but I think the most exciting time for me was creating a custom designed leather, crystal and chiffon bodysuit that she wore in the Drumming video directed by the legendary Dawn Shadforth and styled by Aldene Johnson. I love creating special pieces for artists such as Florence, since not only do they come to life and give the piece a heartbeat, but, my work is digitally immortalised.

Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine wears Hannah Marshall in the video for Drumming

The piece I produced for the pilot season of All Walks Beyond the Catwalk has a similar feel to it in the way it moved on the body. I purposely wanted an older woman to wear my design to prove that style is about much more than age, but a certain attitude and confidence in your own skin. The ever-beautiful Valerie Pain was the perfect woman to collaborate with, tall, elegant, beautiful – and 70.

Valerie Pain wearing Hannah Marshall for All Walks Beyond the Catwalk

AW: Youʼve previously cited All Walks co-founder, Erin OʼConnor as your muse, how does she inspire you?

HM: Erin modeled exclusively in my very first catwalk show at London Fashion Week and she fitted the role perfectly – she strikes the fine balance between strength and elegance. Erin has actually become a really good friend to me over the past few years, so to me, I no longer only look at her as this incredible British supermodel, because getting to know Erin I can say she is incredibly intelligent, talented, generous, inspiring, trustworthy, loyal and warm person.

Stylist magazine put Erin and I on the front cover of their Fashion Issue, photographed by John-Paul Pietrus which featured an interview about our dual relationship as both designer and muse but also as great friends. I love the way that Erin is unapologetic and the way she reminds me to be unapologetic.

AW: Whatʼs next for Hannah Marshall?

HM: I recently decided not  to show seasonal collections on the catwalk, but instead, explore territory around and outside of the fashion sphere. I am currently working on some exciting and innovative projects and crossover collaborations, I can’t reveal too much at the moment but – watch this space!  The main thing for me is that I want to continue to express my creativity in and outside of the fashion sphere, as it goes beyond the catwalk.

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Interview by Charmaine Ayden
Images courtesy of Hannah Marshall
Editor Charlotte Gush, on Twitter @CavaCharlotte
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Charmaine Ayden is a Fashion Communication graduate from Northumbria University. An avid admirer of all things ‘glossy’, she set her heart on a career in Fashion Journalism from a young age.

Undertaking work placements with Vogue, WSGN, Asos, Drapers and Glamour Magazine, Charmaine is currently working as Copy and Features Writer for Brownsfashion.com.

Check out Charmaine’s blog The Good is the Beautiful and find her on Twitter @CharmaineAyden