Fashion Icon Settles In Savannah

Designer James Hogan sounds off about the South, Style and Studio 54

Internationally renowned fashion designer, James Hogan, visited Savannah from his hometown of Boston in 1990 and decided to open up his Whittaker Street shop shortly after that. “I just love everything about living here and Southern women really get classical styles. I also love that people in the South have manners; men open doors and pull up chairs for women; people send thank you notes after dinner parties! It is just so very pleasant,” he said. Hogan has been dressing women and men for 35 years, but his style has evolved from rock and roll into an eternally classical aesthetic.


SM: How did you get started in fashion design?


JH:  I studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, but me real design studio was at Studio 54, where all the beautiful people were. While I was a student, I would make outfits for the models at the club and soon, everyone wanted me to dress them! As a result, Henri Bendel’s gave me a big order and orders from Barney’s followed that launch. I went back to school to ask my teachers how I was going to produce all these orders, and they were floored!


SM:  Your styles are so classical, what inspires your design aesthetic?


JH:  You cannot beat what Givenchy did for Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy! I like a sophisticated, understated look; a look for women who are confident and elegant. Growing up, people like you and I emulated the great style icons like C.Z. Guest and so I make clothing suited for that level of sophistication. I pay attention to the classics, but I started out dressing rock stars and hung out a lot with the likes of Grace Slick and Blondie. One former rock star client of mine recently said that I have gone from dressing rockers to dressing ladies who lunch!  After all, they are now the ladies who lunch!


SM: What was your favorite era?


JH:  The one I grew up in! No era had more fun than the 70s and early 80s in New York. I knew great designers and artists like Andy Warhol—who was a really nice person, despite all the rumors! I’ll always remember what he said to me about fashion; he said, “It’s not about the clothes, its about you! Make yourself interesting.” That is timeless truth. 

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