Photos by Martei Korley
Words by Hollie Cook
There’s a timeless quality about Hollie Cook. Her music evokes UK Lovers Rock of the late ’70s and early ’80s, an era before she was born, when (largely female) British singers of Caribbean descent like Janet Kay and Carroll Thompson were creating the “Quiet Storm” to reggae’s R&B.
Around that same time, Hollie’s parents, Paul and Jeni Cook, came together in a different sort of London scene: They were members of the Sex Pistols and the Culture Club, respectively. Young Hollie grew up in an eclectic social sphere that included Vivienne Westwood, Ari Up (whom she later joined in a reformed version of The Slits in the late 2000s) and her Godfather, Boy George. “My parents have got a lot of extremely interesting friends, so my whole childhood was full of many weirdos,” Hollie remarks with fondness. “It was all normal to me. I’d party with my parents and their friends, then go sleep in the room where everyone put their jackets.”
Her personal approach to style reflects the uniqueness of her upbringing, while harkening back to more classic styles via vintage finds. “Most of the time I get an idea of what I want, and look for it on Ebay. Or I get somebody to make it for me.”
She favors bold prints, an aesthetic in sync with her music, which has grown from its Lovers Rock roots into something more broadly “tropical.” (Her latest album, Twice, makes considerable use of cuicas, and other “wild” sounds, lending it the feel of a B-movie set in a lost jungle.) Her wardrobe, she says, veers chaotically between tomboyish attire and more girly looks.
On the eve of her first US tour, we took Hollie shopping at NYC ladies vintage shop Maison Jadis, where she posed for a fashion shoot with Martei Korley and discussed her personal style rules, as she picked out a few new outfits for the road.
My personal style flips between tomboyish–I’m always wearing trainers, and I like pants and shirts—and 1950’s style dresses. My music influences my style choices in different ways. I love to play on the whole tropical theme– it keeps it nice and fun. When I’m shopping, I don’t necessarily know what I’m looking for. But I’m normally drawn towards bright colors and patterns.
I have to be super comfortable all the time otherwise I can’t be myself. I am just doing me so yeah — it’s colorful and it’s laid back. You won’t find me wearing six-inch heels anywhere except to sit down to dinner.
My mom and I have a funny relationship as far as my outfit choices. We’ve always had a little bit of a battle about the fact that I could probably be “cute” all the time, and I’m not. On the occasion that I am looking elegant, it pleases her greatly. It’s interesting, because I know back in her punk days, she made some extremely interesting choices of her own.
My interest and connection to Lovers Rock came from hearing a cassette in another room of a house I was in with my boyfriend at the time, when I was about 15. His dad was playing a Janet Kaye album on one side, and on the other side it had a Carol Thompson album. It just sort of came floating through the house… these sweet, sweet voices. It felt like something I could really relate to and sing along to.
I’m extremely goofy and I think that comes from feeling shy around people. Sometimes, I don’t feel the need to talk at all. I’m very much an introvert, but it’s disguised in a bubbly, fun exterior.
My favorite item in my wardrobe is a jacket that belonged to my father in the ‘80s. It’s a basic, navy blue bomber jacket but over the years he stuck patches and pins in it. I found it, and completely adopted it. It’s always stuff that my parents handed down to me. They didn’t save enough but the stuff I do have of theirs is the coolest stuff I own.
My hair regimen has evolved constantly throughout my life. I’ve battled with this “thing” since I was a kid. Now I just leave conditioner in it, twist it up a bit, just let it do whatever it wants, and we don’t fight.
Hollie Cook styled by: Mary Ann Fusco with Eloise Ange Simonet
Photo assistance by: Skyla Stover, Kieran Meadows, Mariami Bilbouri
Purple jockey-print shirt by Lauren by Ralph Lauren, circa 1990s
Silk leopard print pencil skirt by label, circa 1990s.
Egyptian Print Maxi Dress by Goldworm, circa late 1960s/early 1970s
Black velvet jumpsuit with illusion lace by unknown label, circa 1940s
Lightweight wool opera coat by label unknown, circa 1950s.
Black pleated pants with chain by label unknown, circa 1980s
White shirt with “people prints” by label unknown, circa 1980s