Fashion Design

Harris Reed interview: ‘I’ve created myself a secure area via vogue’

Harris Reed has dressed all of them.

Beyoncé on the duvet of British Vogue, Adele in her newest music video and if Harry Kinds is carrying one thing noteworthy, it’s in all probability Harris Reed (the designer famously put Kinds in a skirt on the duvet of US Vogue). Lil Nas X, Emma Watson, Miley Cyrus, Emma Corrin, Selena Gomez, Sam Smith and Olly Alexander all adore him and supermodel Iman wore one among his theatrical creations to this 12 months’s Met Gala.

Nowadays, if a VIP is in pursuit of a headline-making second, it’s 26-year-old Reed they name. It’s the type of publicity that even probably the most established vogue homes need to work onerous for – remarkably, although, Reed graduated from Central St Martins simply two years in the past. And this night he’ll placed on his first correct runway present at London Trend Week.

Once I meet with him there may be simply over every week to go earlier than the present and he’s reverberating with nervous vitality. “I’ve been pinning sequins all day,” he says, speaking 100 miles an hour in his signature ‘LA Valley Woman’ drawl. Reed is the kid of Oscar-winning documentary maker Nick Reed (who’s English) and former mannequin Lynette Reed (who’s American), and grew up within the States earlier than transferring to London seven years in the past. Later, as we talk about privilege inside the vogue trade (it’s onerous to disclaim that so-called ‘nepotism infants’ like Lila Moss, Lily-Rose Depp, Kaia Gerber and Kendall Jenner are at the moment dominating runways) Reed can be forthright about what this charmed lineage has afforded him: “I’ll by no means deny the privilege that I had of being within the Hollywood world – and that helps with among the folks I’m dressing” however, he additionally factors out that “this solely obtained the door open – what retains me within the room is myself. And so I’d get an introduction to decorate a celeb but when I convey a shitty sketch or if I don’t over-deliver, they’re not going to do it.”

Sam Smith, Dame Anna Wintour and Harris Reed attend a non-public gathering with Serpentine’s Chairman, Michael R Bloomberg, to honour artists and thank most loyal supporters at The Serpentine Gallery

/ Dave Benett/Getty Photos for Serpentine Gallery

We’re on the Commonplace resort close to Kings Cross the place Reed is designer-in-residence and has arrange his studio. Till now he has solely ever proven his collections via video and static displays and though these have been at all times high-glamour occasions, with performances from the likes of Sam Smith, that is the primary time he’ll have fashions strolling in a extra conventional catwalk format. “It’s probably the most formidable when it comes to the dimensions of the present and of the items,” he says. “I’ve at all times struggled with conventional catwalks for my model… A Harris Reed present is at all times fairly intimate and whereas it will nonetheless be very intimate for a vogue present, we’re broadening the attain. And naturally, fashions are strolling. It’s an evolution of the storytelling.”

Of their efficiency on the Harris Reed present final season, Sam Smith tells me: “Acting at his present at London Trend Week earlier this 12 months was a good looking expertise, it was the sort of stay intimacy I’d hadn’t skilled in a while.  Not solely is Harris one of the vital thrilling vogue visionaries to reach out of the capital, however he himself is beautiful inside and outside and I really like him.”

Preparations have been going properly, although in fact, the unhappy information of the Queen’s loss of life on Thursday September 8 – precisely every week earlier than Reed’s present – threw the entire of London Trend Week into query. On 9 September, massive identify manufacturers Burberry and Raf Simons postponed their very own ruway displays. After a lot deliberation, the British Trend Council determined that really a scaled again model of vogue week may go forward (with events and public occasions cancelled, and no exhibits to be held on the day of the Queen’s funeral). The passing of Elizabeth II (who Reed “profoundly admired”) made him re-evaluate the whole present and assortment. “I would like greater than ever for it to really feel worthy in such an vital second. It’s been very difficult to navigate, and to make the best selections.” A number of days later, Reed posted a rallying cry to his 601K Instagram followers urging the trade to not abandon LFW. It earned him widespread reward.

Little doubt it’s been a difficult few days, however Reed isn’t simply dissuaded. He has, he says, an ‘intense self-assurance’ which comes from a childhood by which he was mercilessly rejected and bullied for being totally different. “I’m six foot 4 and a half now however I grew actually tall in a short time and I had very camp mannerisms — I don’t use camp in a unfavorable means — however I used to be very effeminate. I used to be like eight or 9 and all of the dad and mom have been like, ‘Oh, my God, Harris is homosexual, Harris is the homosexual child,’ earlier than I even understood what being gay meant. I used to be disinvited to sleepovers as a result of the dads have been like, ‘No, can’t have the homosexual child there.’ Children have been pulled away from my lessons. My mum and I moved again to California from Arizona, as a result of the bullying was tremendous unhealthy. It was not enjoyable.”

Iman and clothier Harris Reed arrive for the 2021 Met Gala on the Metropolitan Museum of Artwork

/ AFP by way of Getty Photos

Ultimately, he says, it led to a sort of fearlessness. “I needed to be taught in a short time who I used to be. I needed to get that elevator pitch down of like, ‘Hello, I’m Harris Reed, I’m queer, I’ve a message.’” Of his determination to champion gender fluidity in his designs, (which made his work a spotlight of final 12 months’s Fashioning Masculinities exhibition on the V&A) he explains: “I do know who I’m and I do know I’ve a objective. You understand, while you undergo that shit, I don’t care if I get a nasty present overview — no less than I’m saying one thing and making it enjoyable.”

And what he’s saying is that everybody — no matter gender — ought to be capable to put on no matter they need. “Amongst Gen Z, persons are like, ‘I’m carrying what I wish to put on as a result of I really feel good in it’ and that’s actually what I’m attempting to do and what I wish to occur. Whether or not it’s pink socks or an enormous feather pink coat, we’re transferring someplace optimistic. It’s this concept of we don’t give a fuck as a result of we’re so snug with who we’re — that may then, I hope, push to a larger acceptance of queerness. It means folks can play with who they’re — however it doesn’t imply folks need to play with their identification — it simply turns into the norm. It’s so easy actually, however it must be finished and I imagine in it a lot.” Basically, he desires to create, he says, the secure area he didn’t have when he was a child.

Adele carrying Harris Reed for her Oh My God music video

/ Adele

Reed has been on a voyage of self-exploration. Up till lately he glided by the pronouns they/them, now he prefers he/him. Why? “It was coming to London and assembly trans and non binary people for the primary time that super-opened my eyes and made me rapidly realise that I’m greater than only a homosexual man. I realised sexuality is fluid; that it’s a spectrum. I used to be 22 on the time and simply figuring myself out.” Pals recommended the pronouns they/them would possibly work — and so they did. However at a “hyper-glamorised” photoshoot sooner or later he discovered himself questioning the picture he was placing out into the world. “I believed, ‘Oh my god, am I setting this archetype for an unrealistic commonplace of being gender fluid?’” He set about soul looking out with the assistance of an “wonderful therapist” and realised that “fluidity is fluid and if I get up tomorrow and I wish to be they/them once more I can and if in ten years time I wish to be she/her I can. So I went again to he/him however some folks in my studio will say they/them, some will say she/her… it’s fluid, I inform them to not fear about it.” He was extra anxious his group would criticize him. “I used to be nervous folks would shit on me as a result of although I nonetheless absolutely imagine I’m gender fluid, I simply occur to have my pronouns as he/him, however it was so overwhelmingly embracing. I wish to soar in several containers, I’m a fluid particular person. My identification is one thing that isn’t fastened.”

I believe ‘look how far we’ve come’ after which I stroll out on on the road and somebody says one thing homophobic

Reed is all too conscious how divisive the problems of gender identification, trans rights and different so-called ‘woke’ subjects are. “Nowadays everybody’s voices may be heard — the great and, for my part, the unhealthy and it creates an area the place it will get aggressive. My boyfriend (Reed lives along with his Chilean boyfriend Eitan Senerman in Notting Hill) commented once we first met on how I’d constructed a secure area. Like, I do know which Tube to not take, I do know once I’m not going to take the bus, I do know what I’m gonna put within the more money to take a automobile residence… I’ve absolutely curated an area the place I can really feel okay sufficient to have the ability to scream as loudly inside my work and be myself in my work and to not disintegrate, as a result of the voices are getting louder. When you’ve got a fucking soul, doesn’t matter what you imagine in, these persons are human beings.” Many people who find themselves anti-queer rights, he says, often “fight it with a fast slur or an uneducated remark” with little information or understanding of the problems, he provides the examples of trans athletes, particularly in America. “We have now to maintain pushing and preserve being ourselves.”

Fashion set: Harris Reed with Harry Kinds

/ Harris Reed

Is he seeing progress and extra acceptance of gender fluid dressing? “In vogue I believe ‘look how far we’ve come’ after which I stroll out on the road and somebody says one thing very homophobic. However I really like, particularly working with excessive profile folks, that it’s beginning to create a dialog.” He thinks what Harry Kinds has finished for gender fluidity is unbelievable. “By Harry taking an opportunity on me seven years in the past as very queer, very vocal designer… he was so embracing of that. I believe it’s optimistic when anybody is attempting to additional convey consciousness to a group particularly somebody who’s in all probability one of the vital watched folks on the earth. And nobody is aware of him personally – regardless that I’ve identified him for years, I’m additionally not tremendous, tremendous near him. So it’s not for anybody to have the ability to choose who he’s. Everybody likes to field somebody in and be capable to say, ‘he’s this, he’s that’ however really, no, persons are far more fluid. They’re far more multifaceted.”

Does he fear that gender fluid vogue has change into simply one other development? “My era and the era beneath have an excellent bullshit detector and it’s very clear when one thing feels real or disingenuous,” he says. “I usually attempt to chunk my tongue if I really feel like an enormous firm is doing one thing that looks like a blatant PR technique however no less than they’re beginning a dialogue.”

Harry Kinds took an opportunity on me seven years in the past as a really queer, very vocal designer

Trend is an trade so typically accused of being tokenistic. Manufacturers, Reed says, want to start out placing their cash the place their mouth is. “If you happen to’re going to indicate range, then who’re you collaborating with? Who’s in your payroll? It’s why I finished doing a variety of Pleasure initiatives as a result of I used to be like ‘why isn’t this cash going to GLAAD in America or Mermaids within the UK?’ If you happen to’re going to be embracing a group, it’s additionally not solely about giving again but additionally about bringing in folks from that group and to just remember to’re doing it proper.”

Reed describes himself as a queer child with a giant dream. So what does that appear like for him? “I’ve enormous aspirations. Harris Reed in 30 years… I can’t let you know what it’s going to appear like, however I can let you know that it’s going to have a mass impact inside the world.”

Beyoncé carrying Harris Reed on the duvet of British Vogue

/ British Vogue

For now, Harris Reed items are made-to-wear slightly than ready-to-wear, that means that it’s okay for Beyoncé (who he describes as having supreme management over her picture whereas additionally being “a powerhouse, extremely thought of and really collaborative”) however the remainder of us can solely admire from afar. Will that change, may a Harris Reed retailer be on the playing cards sooner or later? “I’m smiling as a result of it’s one thing I’ve been fascinated with lots currently. I’m at all times fascinated about how I can get Harris Reed into folks’s properties in unconventional methods. There’s no proper means of what it may very well be. I’ve no need to be something lower than nice and something lower than influential and have impression however with a objective. I don’t give a fuck about being well-known, I don’t give a fuck about having a giant home, but when I’m giving again, have a staff and am making lovely issues then I’m doing it proper.”

Watch the Harris Reed present stay on @harris_reed

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