For Bella Hadid, Chrome Hearts is much more than a luxury brand – it’s family. The fashion muse, supermodel and social media boss lady has fond memories of hanging out at the Chrome Hearts factory in LA as a teenager, calls owner Laurie Lynn Stark her “angel mother”, and counts Stark’s daughter Jesse Jo as one of her closest friends. So when Hadid announced she had been designing a capsule collection for the brand, you got the feeling it was a special moment.
In London for the exclusive Selfridges launch last week, Hadid took us through her design process for the 40-piece apparel and accessories collection. “We’d be watching Breakfast At Tiffany’s and then the next thing it would be Empire Records, and you just find little things, like a collar, or a patch. And then it would be about working it into the kind of pieces I like to wear.”
The result is a collection that mixes Chrome Hearts’ rockstar aesthetic with Hadid’s own personal style. Drawing inspiration from pop culture, film and New York’s art scene in the 60s, it’s full of tensions: high and low, urban and luxury; A-grade schoolgirl with a penchant for leopard print. Think cashmere cardigans and mini leather skirts, oversized puffer jackets and leather caps, a bondage-style coat (Hadid’s “baby”) and a fringe jacket (“that one has the sickest fit ever”). Then there’s a series of white baby tees, hoodies, beanies and tank dresses that echo the original Chrome Hearts ethos: “clean, classic and nasty”.
The reality of high profile fashion partnerships is often that the talent’s input extends only as far as a seal-of-approval, so it’s refreshing that Hadid wanted to own this project. She says her process involved mining the “amazing” Chrome Hearts archive. “I was looking at this stuff that Britney Spears and Pamela Anderson wore in the nineties and early noughties, and I’d go, “OK how can we make this fit better, so that it doesn’t feel so 2001 – let’s make it a little more high waisted and modern.”
There’s no doubt that archive is a treasure trove, considering the brand’s place as premiere outfitter to Hollywood’s finest, and counting collaborations with everyone from The Rolling Stones to Off White’s Virgil Abloh. After all, when Lynn and Richard Stark founded Chrome Hearts in 1988, Stark was making an early name for the brand by outfitting his rockstar friends (think Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones).
Hadid is also keen that some pieces in the collection are seen as universal. “Guys love the crop sweaters, and I think that’s what’s sick about it – it’s for anybody. I’m trying to make my brother wear it,” she laughs. You get the feeling she’ll bring him around.
The CHROME HEARTS x BELLA collection is now available exclusively at Selfridges.