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Hart And Soul

Mollie Lloyd with Jessica Hart, model-turned-designer

Written by . Published on July 5th 2011.

Hart And Soul

WHEN Jessica Hart was little, her career ambition was to drive a truck. Thank goodness someone stopped her. The Aussie bombshell was discovered in a shopping mall at the age of fifteen and, when ten years of modelling got boring, she turned her attention to design. Neon Hart was born. Thanks to some high profile ad-campaigns for the likes of Gucci, Victoria’s Secret and Seafolly, not to mention her kick-ass off-duty wardrobe, Hart’s been firmly on the fashion radar for a while. With Neon Hart now available exclusively at Selfridges, she’s got us swooning all over again.

Jessica Hart would look fabulous in a bin-bag, but she has a point. Such versatile pieces are a Godsend amongst the wear-it-and-trash-it culture of trend lead fashion.

We meet inside Selfridge’s personal shopping department. The dressing room, occupied by Hart, her photographer and her manager, is a jumble of half empty coffee cups, designer handbags and brunch-time debris. The ultimate model lair, it’s ritzy yet dishevelled, scruffy yet chic – much like Hart herself. All golden limbed and gap-toothed, Jessica is dressed head-to-toe in Neon Hart. She’s the perfect poster girl for her collection, which makes sense, since it’s based on her own personal style. “I didn’t expect to be doing this,” she beams with her Aussie twang, “but it came so naturally, I never have to stop to think about it.” The range is full of grungy meets glam basics. From frayed-hem denim shorts and ripped knits to suede shirts and maxi dresses; it’s the nuts and bolts of laid-back cool.

Torn denim shorts in blackTorn denim shorts in blackBased in New York, hailing from Melbourne and designing for the UK, you’d expect more sartorially schizophrenic offerings from someone skipping from one end of the planet to the other on such a regular basis. “It’s not always easy, but I design year round pieces rather than seasonal collections” she says. “Personally, I can’t live without these denim shorts. They make me, or anyone, look great!” Jessica Hart would look fabulous in a bin-bag, but she has a point. Such versatile pieces are a godsend amongst the wear-it-and-trash-it culture of trend lead fashion.

Animal print capeAnimal print capeLeopard print features heavily in the collection. There’s a sleeveless printed cape, which is perfect to add flair to an otherwise plain combination of vest plus denim, and a flawless maxi dress in the same fabric, which is fast becoming a Neon Hart signature. Animal prints are notoriously hard to design well. Poorly cut leopard so often winds up looking tediously over hashed and cheap, so the fact that this leopard totally knocks our spots off is a worthy validation of the longevity and quality of Neon Hart’s offerings.

The clock is ticking and Hart is itching to get outside and take photographs. “I love taking pictures in the street. I take them of signs, shops, anything. Wherever I am, I have my camera.” The result is a photo-blog chock full of snapshots of a seemingly blessed life. But it’s not that simple. “The only people that truly understand my lifestyle are other models,” she says, “ It’s hectic. I arrived in England this morning and I’m leaving again later. I don’t even have any toiletries with me!” So what does she have in her bag? “There’s always my music, laptop and camera. The worst thing is when I’m travelling to four different countries and I have, like, four climates over four days. It’s so hard to pack!”

Luckily the day of our meeting is blissfully sunny and the streets are packed with perfect picture opportunities, fashion themed and otherwise. “England’s got it going on it seems, everyone looks so cool here. It’s not like New York where it’s hard to separate residents and tourists. You guys have totally got it pegged.” Thanks Jess, we Hart you too.

Neon Hart is available exclusively at Selfridges.

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