From the sisters we’re given, to the sisters we’ve chosen, the Usisi-Sister Series explores the benefits of being connected through a network of sisterhood.
Serena Hood is the CEO and co-founder of Collagerie, an expert select edit of luxury items across fashion, accessories, beauty and lifestyle. Shopping unusual and rare fashion edits is something that Serena knows all about - before launching Collagerie, she was the Executive Fashion Director of British Vogue. It’s at Vogue that she met Lucinda Chambers, formerly Vogue’s Fashion Editor, and who she founded Collagerie with. The site has gone on to become the definitive online destination for luxury craftship and a celebration of artisan practices in fashion.
With three sisters to her name, Serena sees these bonds are creatively inspiring as well as being the ultimate in truth telling: “I am constantly bouncing ideas off of them”, she says, “you know that sisters will always tell you the truth”. Here, Serena tells us about her own world of sisterdom, from the women she works with at Collagerie, to her own three sisters, who also share her curiosity for fashion.
USISI-SISTER: How has your relationship with your sisters guided your creativity in work?
Serena Hood: I have two younger sisters and we have all ended up working in similar industries, across fashion, media and communications. I am constantly bouncing ideas off all of them, you know that sisters will always tell you the truth.
USISI-SISTER: What’s a sister tradition you and your sisters have?
Serena Hood: We love to get together for Sunday lunch at one of our homes. Usually my sisters do all the cooking, as admittedly I’m a terrible chef! I love to be in charge of styling the table instead. When it comes to birthdays, our favourite spot to celebrate is The River Café.
USISI-SISTER: Sisters are chosen as well as related, can you talk a bit about the chosen community of women you have in your life?
Serena Hood: I am lucky to have so many amazing women in my life, from all the amazing women in my family, to my Collagerie team, to my friends - all of whom are a constant source of support and inspiration. One of my close friends and mentors during my start-up journey is Whitney Bromberg Hawkings, founder of Flowerbx. She is a few years ahead of us at Collagerie and is always incredibly generous with her time and advice.
USISI-SISTER: What inspired you in launching Collagerie?
Serena Hood: In all honesty, we had no intention of starting a business. We met for coffee having left Vogue, chatting about all things style and fashion and wondering where we would now get that information that came to us so easily when we were editors. Where would we go now? There was no one place that reflected how we love to shop ourselves. Both of us shop from a broad range of destinations, from high street to luxury, we love new discoveries and emerging brands. That's why we had to start Collagerie! It was to solve our own problem.
We also knew that we weren't so weird and wonderful, that there wouldn, be hundreds, thousands, probably millions of women just like us all over the world who needed Collagerie as much as we did - that was the lightbulb moment.
USISI-SISTER: Sustainability is at the forefront of the business, how can women approach shopping more sustainably?
Serena Hood: Our tagline at Collagerie is The One Thing Over Everything; we believe that it’s not about how much you buy, but how much you love what you buy.
USISI-SISTER: What trends do you like for AW21, and what are you predicting for SS22?
Serena Hood: There are incredible knits around this season, especially in skirts and dresses as seen at Gabriela Hearst. I also love all of the amazing eveningwear - sequins, diamante and sparkle details adorning clothes and accessories, ready for a fun and fabulous night out! For SS22, a focus on craftmanship is already taking centre stage.
USISI-SISTER: In what ways does travel inspire you?
Serena Hood: Travelling and visiting new places is always a source of inspiration, from the colours and the patterns, to learning about local artisans and their work.
USISI-SISTER: What will be on your post-pandemic travel list?
Serena Hood: I’ve always wanted to go to Japan in the Spring, that is first on my list.
USISI-SISTER: What are your tips for shopping vintage?
Serena Hood: I love vintage, from fashion to jewellery to homeware. Kempton market is a personal favourite and is absolutely brilliant for finding amazing one of a kind furniture and home accessories. When it comes to jewellery Gray’s Antiques in Mayfair is my go-to, and Moira Fine Jewellery on Instagram has some fantastic finds.
USISI-SISTER: What artists inspire you?
Serena Hood: The list is endless!
There have been some amazing artists we have already had the pleasure of working with at Collagerie, such as the illustrators Moira Frith and Cecilia Carlstedt to the painter and set designer Tessa Newall. I discover a lot of new artists on Instagram from all over the world. The Australian artist Emma Gale is a recent discovery, I love her paintings, they are so playful and colourful and we actually now have one in our kitchen. I started to follow the Brooklyn-based artist Wayne Pate years ago, his work is simply incredible and really hope to be able to see his art in person one day soon.