Can you give us an insight into Holy Hell, how did it all come about and who is the creative behind it?
I’m Sophie, the founder of Holyhell. The creation of this brand was more of a happy accident than a grand plan. I’ve always had allergies to most metals, and wearing large industrial chains used to give me skin irritations, which made my little goth heart very sad! Frustrated by this, I started making my own hypoallergenic jewellery. With over 12 years of experience as a body piercer, I had a good understanding of safe metals. I’ve admired the aesthetic of Chainmaille for a long time, so I began experimenting with different weaves, playfully calling it “goth loom bands.” I found the process to be therapeutic, and I gradually developed my skills. Initially, I made jewelry only for myself, but as more people inquired about where I found such unique pieces (and with some encouragement from my girlfriend), I decided to set up a website. Now, I not only create chains for myself, but I also have the joy of crafting them for others to enjoy.
Can you share the story behind the name “Holyhell” and how it relates to the brand’s identity and aesthetic?
The inspiration behind the brand name, Holyhell, actually comes from one of my favorite artists, Foie Gras. My deep passion for music has guided the naming of every garment available on the website. Each product takes its name from a song created by a female-fronted artist, reflecting Holyhell as a female-owned brand. Remarkable artists such as King Woman, Chelsea Wolfe, Amyl and the Sniffers, The Distillers, Sharon Van Etten, and Siouxsie and The Banshees have played a pivotal role in shaping the brand’s identity. It’s important to note that Holyhell, as a brand, is entirely genderless and intended to be worn by everyone. As a very androgynous queer person myself , I wanted to cater to all.
Chainmail has a rich history in armor and medieval fashion. How do you blend this historical influence with contemporary style in your designs?
My Interest of medieval fashion came to me after first discovering Chainmaille and homing in the craft via jewellery. I was then started to be asked to make bigger garments. After doing some research about medieval armoury I fell into a huge wormhole! I started making contemporary pieces with the original weaving techniques used in medieval armoury. For instance, historical coifs, which were originally Chainmaille hoods made for battle, captivated me with their aesthetics
However, I realised that this didn’t quite align with the brand or my interests. So, I decided to modernize this concept by transforming it into a gimp mask It turned out better than I could have ever imagined and it definitely brings a touch of the medieval into the contemporary world.
Your brand is known for its edgy and unique designs. What is your creative process like, and where do you draw inspiration for new pieces?
My creative process is simple, I lock myself away in my craft room and see what happens! I mostly just think about the sort of jewelery I liked to wear myself and make it. Chainmaille is a growing craft worldwide and I do my best to stick out from the rest. Drawing influence from the kink scene, the club scene and also the goth movement .
Your collections feature a wide range of jewelry, what’s your favorite item you created so far, and why.
My favourite pieces are the ones that challenge me the most . The Chainwreck bra is one of my pieces as it was the first of my large scale garments I ever made when I was fairly new to the craft. I remember the blood sweat and tears that went into it , and the overall satisfaction of getting it done . My other favourite is the classic ‘Jett’ neck chain and bracelet . I wear it every single day and goes with every outfit . It’s an absolute staple for me. It also has a large sentimental side of it too as it is named after my late Boston terrier (named after Joan Jett). It brings me joy when the name pops up on people’s orders .
Does your personality have similarities in any way with the current mood of your brand?
Oh definitely , this brand is an embodiment of myself . My whole life I’ve drawn upon huge influence from the goth and industrial scene in my own style as well as the brand. I think that’s why my brand is so consistent , I’m not trying to be anything, it’s just who I am.
What is most rewarding in having this brand?
The most rewarding thing for me is the reviews that I receive from people who wear my jewellery and just don’t take it off . Another achievement I’ve happily unlocked is some of heroes showing interest in my work. Commissioning custom pieces for the likes of Bimini and Kris Esfandiari (King Woman).
South of Heaven
Photography: Marco Giuliano / @marcogiulianoph
Styling: Anca Macavei / @ancamacavei
Jewellery: Holyhell / @holyhell_uk
Assistant: Veronica Ferri / @_aorta__
Model&Makeup: Marianna Grasso / @merisiel_irum