Introducing 'Hellqvist & O'Donovan,' an Ode to London Men's Week

Introducing 'Hellqvist & O'Donovan,' an Ode to London Men's Week
(All photos courtesy Hellqvist & O'Donovan)

Back in June, London held its first-ever standalone men's fashion week—and veteran fashion journalist David Hellqvist and photographer Morgan O'Donovan were there to document it. The result, five months later, is Hellqvist & O'Donovan: Document No.1—a not-quite-magazine not-quite-book photo-and-words celebration of the industry-changing event—which officially launches this week in the UK.

The gorgeous tome features interview with nine designers—Martine Rose, Aitor Throup, Richard Nicoll, Astrid Andersen, Shaun Samson, Agi & Sam, Christopher Shannon, Meadham Kirchhoff, and Sibling—as well as Q&As with super-stylist Katie Grand, Fashion East founder Lulu Kennedy, fashion journalist Tim Blanks, editor Bruce Pask, i-D's Elgar Johnson and Ben Reardon, Love Editor Alex Fury, Hypebeast Editor Ed Chiu, blogger Steve Salter, the Guardian's Simon Chilvers, and fashion editor Dal Chodha.

Introducing 'Hellqvist & O'Donovan,' an Ode to London Men's Week

I caught up with David Hellqvist to find out more about Hellqvist & O'Donovan—and why, in this digital age, it felt important to have a printed document/book/magazine to have and to hold.

StyleBistro: Tell us about Hellqvist & O'Donovan—where did the idea come from and why did you decide to make it a book, and not a website or a magazine?

David Hellqvist: The idea was to create something physical in a digital world. I've worked online for years and even though I now write for magazines again, I wanted to create something. Hellqvist & O'Donovan is 130 pages, A4 size, with an embossed cover. It's based on the idea of a book—complete with chapter-style text, titles, and headings. It's designed by Charlotte Heal, who's the art director at Lula magazine, and Christopher Thompson. We're publshing it ourselves—we don't have a publisher. The initial idea is to produce 100 copies and pay for it ourselves, me and Morgan.

Introducing 'Hellqvist & O'Donovan,' an Ode to London Men's Week
SB: Who's the Hellqvist & O'Donovan reader?

DH: Who's the customer? Don't know and don't care. We're not selling it—we're printing 500 copies and giving them out at our launch party and sending them to people all over the world—anyone who likes menswear, anyone who thinks London deserves a standalone menswear week, they're the customer.

Ultimately, it's about celebrating talent. I selected nine designers from the shows Morgan shot backstage at. Then, we either spoke to them or someone else closely related to the brand—like Katie Grand on Sibling and Lulu Kennedy on Meadham Kirchhoff. I added guest Q&As to involve a global perspective—Bruce Pask from New York and Ed Chiu from Hong Kong, plus lots of Londoners, of course—most of whom I know well and really like.

It was about getting a good mixture as well—showing different kinds of designers. I wanted a few less-obvious—like YMC, as they represent what I like, but I ended up having to cut them due to lack of images—with some, like Martine Rose, I forcused on shirts. 

Introducing 'Hellqvist & O'Donovan,' an Ode to London Men's Week
SB: Do you have a special affinity for books?

DH: I just love books—always have and always will. It was my childhood dream to "publish" one—although, in a sense, we haven't, but you know what I mean.

Introducing 'Hellqvist & O'Donovan,' an Ode to London Men's Week

SB: How long did it take you to put this project together? How much has your concept evolved since you first
embarked on the process?

DH: Morgan and I decided to do this in May, but only started working on it for real in late summer. The project has changed a lot over time. I had a list before the shows—and only one or two are still there.

SB: I see you've bought the URL—are there other collaborative projects in the works?

Yes, it's an ongoing project, but it's not a fashion magazine about London's menswear scene. The next issue/edition will be about something else, but it will be about menswear and it will feature Morgan's images and my text.

Introducing 'Hellqvist & O'Donovan,' an Ode to London Men's Week

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