Harlan + Holden creative director Alessandra Facchinetti on her new role: “I’ve always been attracted by new projects that leverage a different language to express my creativity and experiences.”
Harlan + Holden and first creative director Alessandra Facchinetti: Existential retail pioneers
Marbbie Tagabucba (The Philippine Star) - January 25, 2020 - 2:55pm

Filipino brand Harlan + Holden is poised for world domination. Its latest move? Appointing their first creative director, Alessandra Facchinetti, one of the most celebrated Italian fashion designers of Gucci and Valentino fame.

Facchinetti was Tom Ford’s successor in Gucci, until she stepped down in 2005, and Valentino Garavani’s in 2007. In between, the Istituto Marangoni alum’s background in the history of art, sculpture and architecture has been applied to tech-forward fashion design and launched Moncler’s high range women’s sub-label Gamme Rouge. She worked as creative director for Miu Miu and most recently, Tod’s. All plum roles in a star-studded resume, but Facchinetti sought something different. She took on projects from her consulting studio in Milan, including opera costume design for Giuseppe Verdi’s Don Carlo. She was evidently seeking a challenge. Joining hands with Harlan + Holden, she is put up to the formidable task of something she has not done before. 

“We’re so excited as well! We still are trying to take it all in. With such a sky-high talent and reputation, what is so striking is that she is one of the humblest persons I know,” Harlan + Holden president Emmanuel Pineda tells The STAR. 

“Beyond her immense talent, creativity and experience, we found a partner and visionnaire who shared in our mission to create seasonless pieces that aim to save you time so you can do things that matter. Alessandra embraced this time-driven philosophy towards creating her collections and communications, and has immersed herself in the touchpoints to support our message,” he says. 

Founded in 2015 in Manila and now headquartered in emerging cultural soft power Seoul, Harlan + Holden took off with great momentum from their first shop in concept store Adora in Greenbelt 5. By giving women and men the elegant ease and efficiency of “one-step,” low maintenance, day-to-night clothes, the brand started a cult following. The outlook expanded to the lace-free Camino shoes, multi-way ergonomic bags, and finally, a lifestyle, starting with Because Coffee that applies a no queues policy and a 10-minute guarantee in their restaurant, the GamFratesi-designed The Glasshouse. A global brand, Harlan + Holden now has 20 tier-one location retail stores, some spread across South Korea, Indonesia and an e-commerce site.

Harlan + Holden did a digital refresh to launch the new campaign with creative director Alessandra Facchinetti.

Facchinetti’s take on suiting and bishop’s sleeves at Gucci from the Fall 2005 collection drew Pineda to her. Following her design career through the years, he wanted to hire someone like her but Harlan + Holden did one better. The two were introduced by a mutual friend, and the rest is history.

Why she agreed to take on the role? “I’ve always been attracted by new projects that leverage a different language to express my creativity and experiences. Harlan + Holden have asked me to create a lifestyle uniform for women and men under a brand mission mandate to save time. To save time to focus on the things that matter. I appreciate the challenge and take on board this innovative philosophy, especially in a time where the way we approach life is changing rapidly across cultures.”

“She is now in charge of image and brand, all our communications and head of design. The website also shows the new range of men’s and women’s clothing,” Pineda explains. 

Harlan + Holden refreshed its website and Instagram page on Friday, wiped its digital history clean to make the big announcement, with an image that simply encourages a mindset: “Ain’t Got Time For That.” 

"Ain't Got Time For That" is conceptualized as a campaign that transcends fashion.

Women's Wear Daily’s Samantha Conti coined the overhaul’s direction as “existential retail,” a new approach progressing from the experiential retail movement of recent years, “taking consumption to a philosophical plane by removing familiar elements from the shop floor and offering customers the time and space to think — and live in the now.” With the start of a new decade, will this be the start of a new phase in retail?

A new flagship location, 2,260 square feet with a terra-cotta facade and plaster interiors designed by London-based David Chipperfield Associates Shanghai, will open in April inside Seoul’s Lotte World Mall. Starting in Because Coffee in BGC, the Seoul flagship has no cash desks on the shop floor, instead accepting only credit cards to maximize their promise of efficiency.

Facchinetti will carry out her duties based in Milan and travel to Asia every six weeks. Her first task was to conceptualize the campaign, and the brand and Facchinetti agreed it has to be something that transcends fashion. They worked closely with Tokyo-based award-winning creative agency Wieden + Kennedy to create this brand manifesto. A survey listening in on what the brand’s loyal clientele invest their time in will roll out in the coming days.

Harlan + Holden and Facchinetti worked closely with Tokyo-based award-winning creative agency Wieden + Kennedy.

“The greatest problem of our time is never having enough of it. We seem busier than ever, but are we truly keeping ourselves busy the right way? There’s so many things we want to give our attention to, so many things that matter greatly to us, however, we never seem to have enough time for them. Over thinking. Negativity. Media saturation. Hyper consumerism. These add to the noise in our lives, wasting our time, leaving us drained,” Alessandra says in the manifesto. “We seek to uncomplicate the life of the modern human that already has enough on their plate in the only way we know how; by saving their time when they open their closet every morning.”

Harlan + Holden’s design timeline follows no seasons; instead, developing collections through improvements and tweaks rather than following trends. Which means none of the catwalk fashion shows Facchinett’s fans are used to. Facchinetti’s first collection 9bc (which stands for the brand’s ninth basic collection), out in June, will expound on both the brand’s and Facchinetti’s values on versatility and aesthetic uncomplicatedness. Her conceptually-heavy focus on form and construction will be seen in the brand’s day-to-day, travel and weekend categories.The price points will remain within Harlan + Holden’s usual range.

Harlan + Holden’s launches its one-step approach to its lace-free shoes, Camino, with a hike in Bhutan joined by STAR columnist Tim Yap in June 2016

Case in point: Facchinetti wears a tie-neck sweater from her collection. It’s a best-selling silhouette that has been reworked to perfection. How Facchinetti will elevate something so well-loved is indeed a challenge. 

Pineda is part of the third generation of the Tantoco clan, the country’s foremost luxury retailers. His grandmother Gliceria Tantoco founded Rustan’s, now headed by aunt Zenaida R. Tantoco. Pineda founded Adora in 2008 and relaunched in October 2016 with Rustan’s.

Bea Valdes for Harlan + Holden SS2016. 

His cousin, Rustan Commercial Corporation president Donnie Tantoco, congratulated Pineda on Instagram: “This amazing development represents a huge shift in our family’s retail legacy. The shift is only from bringing the best global brands to the Philippines to also presenting a lifestyle brand all Filipinos can be proud of to the world. Congratulations Eman Pineda! This is to say the least awesome! May you be one of very few Filipinos or even Asians to compete and thrive with your own brand in the big leagues of the global fashion world.”

Exposure to the retail world as well as travels with his family inform his perspective. He learned discipline from parents Eddie and Merl Pineda. All of this coming together, Pineda’s brilliant way of giving people what they never knew they wanted and needed is something that’s uniquely his.

Overlap knot mount top from the current knitwear collection.

***
In the Philippines, Harlan+Holden is located on the 2/F of Shangri-la Plaza, Pasig; G/F of Power Plant Mall, Makati; and 3/F Adora, Greenbelt 5, Makati.For more information, visit harlanholden.com and @harlanholden on Instagram.
 

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