Portrait Series: Georgiana Huddart

Georgiana Huddart
The Royal Mint has commemorated people and occasions as a visual storyteller through coins and precious metals since its founding, circa 886. The Portrait Series embraces this tradition with storytelling portraits that celebrate the faces and personalities that embody Britain today. In this month’s Portrait Series, we meet Georgiana Huddart, co-founder and Creative Director of Hunza G, British designed and produced sustainable swimwear label, and mother to Frank and Stella.

We join Georgiana in her West London home, in discussion with Dominic Jones, Creative Director of 886 by The Royal Mint.

Dominic Jones: Tell me about the first time you found out about Hunza G, how was the process for you starting this project?

Georgiana Huddart: Hunza G was an existing brand founded in 1984 by my business partner Peter Meadows, and I had wanted to revive the brand as I had some old Hunza in a dressing up box - I used to make my brother wear a red dress, and he loved wearing it! Peter made the original dress in the film Pretty Woman, where Julia Roberts's dressed in this amazing crinkle outfit. So it had always been quite iconic for me and I eventually tracked him down and approached him about reviving it in 2015. We literally started the next day when we met in a coffee shop on Westbourne Grove, we got orders within the first week of launching on Instagram.

DJ: What was the thinking behind reaching out to Peter?

GH: Having had some of the old Hunza in a dressing up box, I forgot about it until I was in my late teens. I was going to festivals and would wear something, and it was really nostalgic for lots of people.

It's a really tactile fabric, and it seemed mad that nobody was doing it. And I looked for the fabric. It's a really difficult fabric to make, tubular so the fabric stretches in an incredible way.

Originally I had thought about making dresses more than swimwear and I was wearing a dress that I'd made in that fabric.

There was no way to find him, none of his press was online. They'd never really had a website. It was just old garments with the Hunza label in it. Then somebody said that they knew Peter, and that's how I got in touch with him. We started doing it and we were one of the first brands to be doing a one size fit product, which was also vaguely fashionable rather than it just being really, really practical.

So making it fashionable and making women feel good, whilst being practical and flattering, it just felt like it had all the key components to something that was really enjoyable to do.

DJ: Did you study fashion?

GH: I never really studied, I just did it. I think what I found really drove my creativity, and I’m sure you get this in jewellery too, is that it’s much easier to design pieces that you like and you would wear yourself, and would enjoy seeing others wear. I didn’t really have a mind for business, but was scrambling around thinking, I want to start a business. And then came the idea of Hunza, before it was a success and before I knew if it was a good idea or not, I just wanted to make swimwear that my friends and I could wear, which people often say is the best way to make a product.

DJ: What is your design process now as Creative Director?

GH: Honestly, it's Stickman on the back of a napkin while I'm having toast.

Not coming from a design background, all my designs usually came about in a much more haphazard way, but there’s much more of a process to it now. I don’t have a design team, but I have a production team and we sit down and look at what has sold well, and it’s coming from more of a commercial perspective, as we found our place as a brand and what we can offer. We will never be that brand that does really skimpy bikinis, because that’s not what people are coming to us for.

We’ve definitely tried lots of options and feel we have really found our groove as to what and who we are, and most importantly what our customers want. And it's a team of women, so it's also really helpful having all of the women in the studio and at the office talking about things that they like and would like to see from us.

It takes about two months to do a new collection and we always come up with a theme, which is really fun. They're not just women on a beach, they're normally themed around a genre or a music movement. There was one called Northern Soul that was based around Northern Soul music. We've just done one in Miami, which is sort of Baywatch reimagined.

We did another called Jalisco, which was very much a Mexican themed backdrop with really cool architecture. We try and roll different things into it to make it a bit more creative and more fun for our customers.

DJ: What have been the highlights for you so far?

GH: We've had so many, but my personal highlights is going on holiday and seeing lots of different women of different body shapes all wearing the same swimming costume. They look just as good on somebody who's a size sixteen, as it does on someone who's a size six - that's been really exciting. But, also, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley crashing the internet when she wore one of our pieces. We were a bespoke made to order company and we got over 700 orders in four hours, our website crashed for two days.

It's all been a learning curve and really exciting. Julia Roberts wearing it last year was really iconic because she had originally worn it in Pretty Woman, the movie. Her re-wearing it also showed the diversity in terms of age and the lifespan that Hunza can take you on, which was really, really exciting.

Our team is massively growing and having a really amazing group of women helped me achieve the success, its all been really exciting.

DJ: Tell me about your kids.

GH: Frank and Stella, which sounds like the name of the artist, Frank Stella, but it actually is an accident! Frank is three and a half and he's amazing. A really particular person, just like Gabriel, his dad. He’s very easygoing but loves things to be in a certain order. Loves playing with his trains. He’s really sweet with Stella, they share a room, which has made him really nice to her, they're like best friends.

Stella’s just turned one and is adorable. Really smiley and just a real joy. Really fun to hang out with. I feel like I'd almost go traveling on my gap year with Stella, if I could, she'd be a good wing woman.

DJ: How has it been like juggling work and motherhood, has it been complicated?

GH: More from a logistical point of view, switching your brain from being a mother, to work mode is more exhausting than just doing one or the other. I have huge respect for people who take a long maternity leave and are able to just focus on doing that. Because looking after children is really exhausting and you have to have huge amounts of patience. I think that switching from changing a nappy in the morning, to then suddenly being at work, trying to sort out a major production or quality issue or whatever happens in the process of things going wrong and owning a business and things going right. That’s probably been the most tiring bit. Because I only took a short amount of time off before I started to go back and I feel like my brain really went back online in a creative way, probably eight months after Stella was born, but I'd been back for much longer than that. It's been great getting my creative brain back.

I feel like when you first have a baby, all you can be is reactive, not really proactive. You don't have the energy mentally to do that. You're just focused on being a mother looking after your baby. And the baby bit is such a fun bit anyway.


DJ: Thank you for hosting us in your new home!

GH: We’ve just moved into a new home and that's been really exciting.

We've packed in a lot, in a short space of time. Stella was born, we moved house, it's been really amazing creating a home - it's the first time Gabriel and I have each done that. We have never owned a house before so it was a really fun and exciting thing to do. As with everything I always think it's going to be easier, simpler, quicker and less expensive than it all ends up being.

It's been a real joy and Frank and Stella absolutely love it. They love having a bit more space and lots of room to play with their toys, it's been really great.