Hilarie Stelfox gave an unloved, bog-standard, dated tweed jacket to Huddersfield designer Hardy Punglia and asked him to work his restyling magic on it. Seven days later and she had a one-off couture creation to turn heads
TAKE one boxy, long-line 1990s jacket, a little too big on the shoulders, quite a lot out of date and found at the back of my wardrobe.
Should I keep it, put it in a recycling bin at the supermarket or take it to a charity shop?
I was considering all these options with a jacket that I have owned for more than a decade, is now unworn and yet still in pristine condition. It seemed a shame to part with it, especially as it was a gift from my husband, but 90s fashion has yet to become retro chic.
And then I discovered Huddersfield designer Hardy Punglia and his unique way with unwanted garments.
Hardy, who runs both The Left Bank boutique and Part II:Vintage on the second floor of the Byram Arcade, turns old into new. He takes men’s jackets and transforms them into something stunningly different for women, old skirts become dresses and dresses become tops.
Folds, pleats, zips and piping embellish the restyled garments. The designs cleverly mould themselves around the original structure and yet come up with a whole new look.
“It’s all about taking something old and unwanted and turning it into something contemporary,” says Hardy, who sells his restyled jackets from £40 to £75 – essentially the cost of his time.
My 90s jacket, he said, was an interesting challenge but one that he accepted with the assistance of Huddersfield University fashion student Laura Nardone, 21, who is on a one-year work placement with Hardy and has been fascinated by what she is learning about restyling.
“The deconstruction process teaches about how garments are put together,” she said. “It’s really interesting.”
Hardy, a fashion graduate of Northumbria University and resident of Highfields in Huddersfield, opened The Left Bank three years ago and has gradually built up a reputation for limited edition, hand-made clothes with an unusual twist – all garments are sewn by Hardy and his small team.
His work has been worn by boy band JLS on the X Factor shows and they were wearing garments from his collection last weekend.
“We pride ourselves on the way the clothes are professionally finished and that applies to the restyled garments.” Hardy said. “We can take a cheap garment and give it that beautiful finish.”
Restyling is a way, he says, to provide couture clothes for his vintage boutique at chain-store prices. It also means that he can work in more costly wool and worsted fabrics.
“If we had to make the restyled jackets from scratch they would be more like £300 plus but we save on the costs by buying up jackets from charity shops or wherever we can find them,” he explained.
“We also take jackets that people bring us and work with them so the customer gets what they want.”
I was curious to see what Hardy and Laura would do with my jacket if given creative freedom. Returning to the shop one week later I was quite literally stunned by what they’d done with so simple a shape.
The shoulders were pulled in so that the jacket fitted better and the entire garment had piping around the edges.
Hardy had given it an asymmetrical design with his signature pleating at the front, also piped.
It had gone from looking boringly corporate to having the Wow Factor. One of my colleagues said it had a high-end designer feel.
“I’m very pleased with it,” said Hardy. “What’s so lovely about restyling is that each one is different so the customer gets something unique.”
Of course, restyling is also fashion at its ethical best.
Hardy said: “It’s working with the recession pulling out all the old stuff and re-using it. From a designer’s point of view it also gives us ideas for collections of new clothing.”
Clothing and accessory outlets in the Byram Arcade will be hosting a joint charity fashion show on Sunday, November 27.
The joint music and fashion event will be in the arcade from 4pm and will raise money for the Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice.
Tickets are £3 from all retailers taking part or £5 on the door.