Harris Reed’s Graduate Collection Is An Ode To The Fluid and Flamboyant
Harris Reed is someone always looking to go bigger and better. Throughout their time at Central Saint Martins, the gender-fluid designer hasn’t settled on their work being confined within the four walls of the esteemed art college. Over their past five years studying at CSM, Reed has worked under Alessandro Michele and both walked in a Gucci show and starred in the brand’s first gender-neutral fragrance campaign alongside Harry Styles. Speaking of Styles, Reed was the brains behind the bespoke silk moire suit the global star wore in his ‘Lights Up’ video, the glistening two-piece he sported on the cover The Guardian’s weekend magazine, as well as the seventies-inspired tour looks worn by Styles across the globe. Their larger-than-life hats have been worn by Solange, Cara Delivigne and graced the pages of glossy magazines worldwide. Oh, and did we mention Reed was already stocked at Matches Fashion before even beginning their final year of uni?
Reed has defied the odds of what it means to be an undergraduate fashion student, even at a prestigious fashion school like CSM. Yet as the world went into lockdown and degree shows were scrapped across the country, even Reed was panicked about how they were going to produce a final collection inside their flat. “How long can this article be,” Reed quickly replies when I asked them the biggest difficulties of producing a full collection in such difficult circumstances. Space was the biggest obstacle. Luckily for Reed, second-year student Bella Thomas agreed to self-isolate with them to help finish the collection. The pair would work day in, day out in a spare room in Reed’s flat, yet due to the grandeur of Reed’s designs, the small size of the room meant they could only work on one piece at a time.
The second biggest hurdle was equipment. Reed had a basic iron, a regular ironing board, your run of the mill sewing machine and a whole lot of hope. “One of the dresses took a day and a half to iron and it went all the way down the hallway and through the living room,” they explain. “Me and Bella were hand-building all of the cages which are made out of steel which had to be threaded through hand-sewn through hand ribbons.”
The final result is an ode to fluidity, flamboyance and fantasy in its most fully-fledged form. Entitled Thriving in Our Outrage, the collection “explores the idea of performance, opulence and self-expression as a daily ritual of our modern lives.” The concept looks to the past to shape tomorrow. Whether it’s gender-bending silhouettes worn by Mick Jagger and The New York Dolls, to Flemish boy portraits from the 1600s, Reed is consistently inspired by moments in time when flamboyance was praised. “I’m always deeply fascinated by history, I’m someone who can just get lost in the National Portrait Gallery all day,” Reed explains. “I often look to the past as when ‘feminine’ and ‘opulent’ was seen as sexy and masculine, or something to strive for. Where now in society it’s been flipped on its head a bit.”
Styled by 10 Men Magazine’s Senior Fashion Editor-at-Large, Harry Lambert, Reed modelled each look themselves. Photographed by Bella Thomas, the images were then brought to life with illustrated backdrops courtesy of Lukas Palumbo and animations by Lauren Deane Hunter. Sharp suiting in the most gorgeous of cuts came pointed at the shoulder and adorned with crinoline cages overlayed with heaps of fuchsia. “That look to me really took on the juxtaposition of 1950s/1940s debutants and juxtaposed it with this sleek, out-there performance wear, a bit of Mick Jagger,” Reed explains.
One of the key talking points from the collection are the wide-brimmed hats. Whilst some came draped in bridal-white lace and others hand-appliquéd with silk, the showstopper was a black-and-white mammoth creation stamped in an almost graffitied-looking animal print. “It became so clear during isolation that it’s all about escapism, how can you escape into another world, how can we feel free and excited. and that look really elevated it because it was so ‘unwearable’,” says Reed.
Out of all the spectacular pieces, Reed’s personal favourites have to be the black steel cages. “That’s something me and Bella worked on for the past six months, from the toile to the final one, it was all completely done by hand,” Reed details. “It really made me fall back in love with the art of fashion and the art of making whilst being in isolation. If I was at school I would’ve had a lot of second-hand helpers but my fingers were literally bleeding making it. Having it come to life I was so mesmerized.”
Harris Reed is leading the new fashion fluid frontier. They cite playwright Jeremy O. Harris, actress Hari Nef and former 10 cover star Teddy Quinlivan as his creative influences today. “I’m inspired by people’s attitudes of ‘I don’t give two fucks, this is who I am, I’m fabulous,” they say. There’s no doubt that all three of the aforementioned will be begging to wear the collection once lockdown is lifted. Reed is here, bask in their glory.
Photographs by Lukas Palumbo.