"I like the idea of restrained, private contemplation or a sense of protest – something hidden for only the wearer to see, details that perhaps others wouldn't notice at first glance." For Amber Symond of Common Hours, there is more than meets the eye to her expertly crafted garments.
Infused with sentiments of inner worlds and sweeping themes, to singularly define the Common Hours brand, at times, feels impossible. But isn't that the point? What started as intricate and luxurious robes, has morphed into evening wear for those who lean towards wearable art. The pieces are illustrated with lyrics, prose, images and art - some created in-house, others specifically licensed from artists, and impeccably crafted to the highest of standards. The result, is garments that are second to none in the Australian market. Carefully constructed in a couture-like manner, Common Hours offers the kind of exclusivity only possible with such attention to detail.
With an impressive roster of hailed and emerging Australian talent on the brand's collaborative roster - Designer Jordan Dalah, Artist Robyn Mayo and Photographer Georges Antoni - Common Hours introduces Collection II. Lensed by Georges Antoni and Jake Terry with creative by Bruna Volpi and a film by Ribal Hosn, the brand ushers in a new chapter. Below, we spoke to Symond on the brands DNA, her love of collaboration, and injecting fun into Collection II.
What was your inspiration for collection II?
My intention was/is to explore possibility based on intuition.
In this case, Collection II started with ideas around botany and entomology and the sensation that juxtaposes wet and dry in an environment. The harshness and strange beauty of the Australian landscape played an important part, as did the feeling of regeneration and possibility, a renaissance of sorts. Throughout it all, an underlying imperative of running out of time and sense of rebellion: I wanted to create a jolting, strange sense of urgency and ecstasy.
Tell me about Ribal's film - what was the intention behind the creative?
Working with our creative director Bruna Volpi and Ribal, we developed a narrative centred on otherworldly creatures flourishing in an almost inhospitable, uninhabitable environment. Principal cellist and conductor Umberto Clerici generously worked with us and created his interpretation of the score, which guides the film's tone. A sense of curiosity and the peculiar is ever-present – with a certain feeling of repression but underpinned with an underlining lust for rebellion.
In saying all of the above, I never wanted to explain the film or any of our campaigns but instead would prefer the viewer interpret it as they will. People see what they want to see.
What drew you to collaborate with Robyn Mayo and Georges Antoni for the collection?
I had something very particular in mind concerning the study of flowers and their specific placement on the garments. I am fortunate to have had our team's technical and creative skills in collaboration with photographer Georges Antoni to explore the idea and elevate and extrapolate it further. The alien-like flower photographs were specifically commissioned for the collection and were further developed and manipulated by our in-house team.
I am an enormous fan of Robyn Mayo, her immersion into her art and the remarkable expeditions that she undertakes in Australia to pursue it. To this end, we added handwritten excerpts from her diary, "Vast", in our garments - the entries compiled from several of her journeys.In the end, it always goes back to that level of attention to detail and those layers of craft and artistry that touch everything that we do.
What is keeping you inspired at the moment?
Working with like-minded individuals with the same level of commitment, creativity, and persistence to pursue all possibilities keep me inspired. Chasing the fun of the 'what ifs', pushing the envelope - anything is possible, there are no rules.
What is your design process like?
It's impulsive and personal and is my best companion during the hours of insomnia.
Talk to me about your collaboration with Jordan Dalah - what was this process like?
Jordan is taking risks and goes his own way; These characteristics very much align with CH.
The ideal collaboration is the joy of working across many ideas and then realising the surprising outcomes as these intersect - this was my experience with this collaboration, and I think what our teams created was the perfect riff between brands.
The garments are highly technical and considered; what is your favourite part of the sampling process?
My favourite part…. When it works!!!!
I am not trained in design, the technicalities of it, nor understand its limitations. Therefore, I rely on sheer ignorance – there is no confidence like it!!! Much to the vexation for our design team lead by Lee Matthews, who has the harrowing task of making it happen.
Do you value tradition when it comes to designing?
I have always been drawn to and deeply affected by detail and pursuit of excellence in design and construction. We seek out and work with illustrious mills and artisans from all over the world, who preserve techniques and ways of working that are frankly precious in a modern world. Aesthetically, the past often inspires me - the restrained elegance of the 1920s, 30s, and 40s are a crucial part of the Common Hours codes. Traditional menswear, the Saville Row way, is also a personal favourite. There is much beauty, nostalgia and romance in taking time to create something exceptional. That being said, a sense of humour, individuality and fun are equally important, especially if they are personal, identifiable to the wearer.
What's next for Common Hours?
Watch the film for Collection II, below.