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liam hodges SS16
Liam Hodges moodboard image and backstage at SS16Photography Daisy Walker

Liam Hodges: back to the days of pirate radio

The designer on how music brings people together – and why he invited a street poet to spit bars at his show at the last minute

It was RCA Graduate Liam Hodges final show with MAN on their tenth anniversary at the Topshop Showspace, and what a swansong it was. Quite literally. After an audacious showing of DIY-feel decorated streetwear dressed up with climbing harnesses, bum bags and buckles requisitioned off seat belts, during the final walk of his SS16 collection, street poet Hector Aponysus unexpectedly approached the runway, breaking into a rapped monologue with lyrics about society, prosperity and community. Considering Hodges tells us backstage his objectives were to leave “positivity” and “a sense of music bringing people together” once the final model had left the stage, he certainly nailed it.

After the show, everyone is talking about Hector Aponysus. How did you decide to incorporate him into your final MAN show?  

Liam Hodges: Music to a show is integral. It wasn’t always necessarily going to be a spoken word artist that we had, but there was always going to be something important musically, as it is a massive part. To be honest I only really met Hector a few days ago, but when we met him his spoken word poetry was just what we wanted for our brand. His message was very positive, which is what this collection is saying.

The theme for this show was ‘pirate radio’, which seemed to work well with the spoken word poetry. 

Liam Hodges: It took us ages to work out how my guy would communicate over pirate radio fequencies. Mixing wasn't right, it needed to be deeper and more honest and real, we chilled and talked about what we both do, the poem came from that I guess.

What about the rest of the soundtrack?

Liam Hodges: Visionist made all the sound for the show. We met last year through the Internet and just hung out, chatted a lot of shit and found a good vibe.

“I only really met Hector (Aponysus, who performed at the show) a few days ago, but when we met him his spoken word poetry was just what we wanted for our brand” – Liam Hodges

What was the brief? 

Liam Hodges: The brief was about this group, about a community of people, it was a positive thing, the theme [of the show] being pirate radio, it was this idea that a bunch of guys decided to grab a few aerials, jimmy their way into a building and beam out a kind of community radio.

The pirate radio element is a signifier for association?

Liam Hodges: Yes! Pirate Radio is a very positive thing. We don't all want the same thing, pirate radio was about giving people something that wasn't "normal" or "commercial". 

And the title of the collection, Blackburn’s Children, is a reference to Tony Blackburn, the British DJ who broadcast on the pirate stations Radio Caroline and Radio London in the 1960s. 

Liam Hodges: It’s that throwback idea. And it’s not using the idea of pirate radio from a political standpoint, its not fully politically charged. It’s a more nostalgic reference. It’s more about [people’s] reactions to the world we live in.

The throwback element runs throughout the feel of the collection too, not just with the mood but with the garments.

Liam Hodges: There’s a 90s throwback jacquard football kit and the hairstyles too, and the ID tag jewellery [courtesy of Slim Barrett], the feeling of nostalgia is there definitely.

What lasting impression did you want to leave with this show? 

For everyone to leave with positivity. Music has that power to bring people together, doesn’t it? 

 Check out Hodges’ moodboard images below: