Hannah Metz Talks Romance & Playful Embroidery For The New HKM Collection

“Wanting to be a designer is something I’ve felt for as long as I can remember,” Brooklyn-based designer and dream woman Hannah Metz told Milk from Rome. Visiting with her husband after the release for her swoon-worthy FW18 collection, she was “nestled in the cushioned corner of a century old hotel bar” with a cappuccino and plate of lemon biscuits, a romantic notion that not only flows through Metz’s personal life, but her designs as well.

From hitting thrift stores at age 12 to putting on “rather hilarious” fashion shows in high school, Metz’s path to becoming a designer was inevitable, and she’s packed a lot in along the way. She’s been a makeup artist, sourced vintage for American Apparel, launched a vintage-inspired lingerie collection, and opened a vintage shop with she and her former boss’ finds throughout the years, and that’s just skimming the surface. Now at the helm of her own brand, HKM, she creates lush designs with dreamlike color palettes and hidden details that work as conversation starters all their own.

We first fell in love with Metz’s work when she released the Iseult’s Tears Dress from the Tristan and Iseult collection, and from that to her last collection packed full of playful flower embroidery, FW18 brings her signature style alongside a new dose of seriousness, with rich colors and lavish fabrics inspired by Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd. “I wanted to create a collection that celebrated the pastoral setting with little spots of decadence (the red pieces and the beadwork) and humor (the sheep embroidery, the sheer embroidered pants),” she told us.

Metz draws a lot of inspiration from the literary world, too, even selling vintage books on her site. We caught up with the badass designer about what she’s reading now, her friendship with Samantha Pleet, and how she’s celebrating Women’s Month. Read on below, and take a peak at exclusive images from FW18 above.

Your trip to Rome looks like a dream! Any highlights so far?

So dreamy here! We [my husband and I] have been working every day since arriving so all the highlights thus far include eating. My favorite moments in Italy are always around the dinner table with friends or basking in the presence of 2,000-year-old art. I am presently nestled in the cushioned corner of a century old hotel bar with a warm coat draped over my shoulders, computer on lap, nursing a cappuccino and a tiny hill of lemon biscuits, Ella Fitzgerald is playing, an Italian couple who has occupied three different tables since I’ve sat down is talking loudly and animatedly at a table by the window, there are palms sprinkled around the restaurant and dusty mirrors with candlesticks in front of them and it’s moments like these that really make me so happy when traveling.

What are you looking forward to when you’re back in New York?

Cuddling my kitties, eating greens, and getting back into my studio to start working on SS19!

Tell us a little about the inspiration behind FW18. It’s so lush!

Thank you! Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd was my FW18 collection inspiration so I wanted to create a collection that celebrated the pastoral setting with little spots of decadence (the red pieces and the beadwork) and humor (the sheep embroidery, the sheer embroidered pants).

I wanted to create a collection that celebrated the pastoral setting with little spots of decadence.

The devil’s really in the details in your work. What are some of your favorite details from the current collection?

The long exaggerated collars (like Troy’s sword swiping at Bathsheba), the embroidered sheep hiding on the white puffed sleeve Shepherd blouse and the covered buttons down the front of the velvet bell bottoms.

Being a designer seems to be an accumulation of a lot of things for you. Tell us a little about your history, and the start of HKM.

Wanting to be a designer is something I’ve felt for as long as I can remember. Making outfits for Barbies, for myself before school in the morning, thrift hunting at 12, putting on rather hilarious fashion shows in high school, the excitement every time Obsession the Fashion TV theme song came on! When I was 15 I had my first job as a shampoo girl and I continued working in salons until going to make-up school. I worked on photoshoots and student films for a few years before coming home to my first love, vintage fashion, with a job sourcing vintage for American Apparel. A few years later I launched a vintage inspired lingerie collection called The Loved One with a dear friend (previously my boss). We simultaneously opened a vintage shop and nurtured the space for three years before closing (I lived on the east coast, it was located on the west). Closing the shop was heartbreaking but the kick I needed to finally do the thing.

Tell us a little about your friendship with Samantha Pleet.

Samantha and I met at an art opening and it was something like love at first sight I think. When we (our husbands, too) all sat down for our first conversation (which I actually have recorded somewhere since it was meant to be an interview for a publication that never launched) we talked with ease for hours. We both love (like really, really love) food, traveling, being a bit (a lot) ridiculous, history, art, nature and of course, clothing. Since we’re both in the same business it would be easy to turn our relationship into an endless business chat but I think we both make an effort to engage as much as possible outside of that realm (though when I need a helping hand navigating this sometimes confusing business I know I can turn to her for help and I hope she feels the same).

You sell vintage books on your site, which I love. What’re you reading right now?

I’ve just finished Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson which was incredibly surprising and magical and I’m already looking forward to revisiting it! Currently reading Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado which I’m enjoying very much and planning on finishing entirely in the very deep claw foot tub at this hotel.

Wanting to be a designer is something I’ve felt for as long as I can remember.

What’s your favorite thing in your closet right now?

My forever favorite is the satin lilac Victorian blouse my aunt gave me. It is boned with filled puff sleeves, silk tassels and it actually fits! I’ll never wear it outside of my apartment and it really should be preserved and cared for by somebody better than me but it is one of my greatest treasures and an inspiration that I revisit frequently.

Where would we find you when you’re not at your studio?

On my couch watching too many period pieces with my kitties or out with my friends eating too much pasta.

How are you celebrating Women’s Month?

I have to be honest and say I hadn’t thought of any specific way of celebrating Women’s Month prior to this question! The last two years I’ve been making a concerted effort (which has turned out to be not much of an effort at all really) to read more women identified authors and in doing so have wonderfully and accidentally only read female authors (except for when revisiting my collection inspirations, something I should also work on changing).

Images courtesy of Karen Sofia Colon; Model: Jessica Wu; Hair & Make-up: Caroline Baribeau

Stay tuned to Milk for more badass women.

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