Eurgh, no! Reed exclaims over Zoom, while looking like a self-confessed old pirate in a cream-colored, lavender lace flowing blouse and a handful of rings. I just can’t! If I’m not going to sleep then I can not make loungewear! He’s laughing.
Laughter is a common theme throughout our discussion, which is surprising given that Reed, who is nonetheless beaming with what he calls a Renaissance glow, only gets through three hours of sleep. Last month he was the only resident of the Standard Hotel in Kings Cross alongside his team of three, working on his first demi-couture collection, which is making its way around the world today to coincide with the London Fashion Week.
I used the indignation towards Harry in the dress as fuel for my new collection. Like, Harry Styles is in a dress so what? He said, I knew it would be controversial just because I’ve lived all over America where just not being straight and white is a problem, so I knew someone of this size in a dress would make a splash.
It’s been a roller coaster ride for a few years for Reed, 24. He modeled for Gucci and dressed Solange Knowles and Ezra Miller, which is no small feat considering he only graduated from Central Saint Martins in June 2020. Shortly thereafter, the One Direction alumnus broke the internet by sporting a Harris Reed suit dress in the American Vogue December Issue. The set, a bespoke costume attached to a crinoline draped in ivory and fuchsia tulle, took Reed, her friend Molly, and her two interns six days to complete and was completely handcrafted.
The Anna Wintours team called me and asked me to do something from my alumni collection which was amazing because this was the last collection I did during the lockdown, Reed explains, i had to start from some old measurements i had on my phone so we were just pray that it is appropriate.
Style stylist Harry Lambert can be credited with forging the relationship. In 2017, via the Central Saint Martins tag on Instagram, Lambert came across Reeds’ work and asked him to conceptualize a few pieces for one of his clients. It wasn’t until he arrived at the Hammersmith Apollo to meet Lamberts’ mystery shopper that he realized he was the successful maker of Watermelon Sugar.
Harry [Styles] and I clicked as soon as we met. He immediately understood my message and what I stood for, says Reed, he’s fabulous. It was amazing that I was able to focus on school, but next to her I share these beautiful moments with him.
The collection that Reed is launching this week, named For now, unexplained, is her first since graduation and continues the riff on the costume-dress hybrid that Styles has catapulted into public consciousness. In true Reed’s whimsical style, the decision to make the collection wasn’t made until January, allowing his team just a month to isolate themselves and handcraft the sextet of coins. The team of four hand-dyed fabric in the Standard’s baths and painted tulle in the back gardens of local pubs.
Reed aims for the collection to be like a moving art and chose to only make six pieces, as it seemed like six pieces could be tangibly done in a month, given that we can’t get fabric from it. ‘Italy and that we cannot get seamstresses. He’s also aware of his Instagram account, which is just under 300,000, and wanted six looks that would work for a scan post.
The designer, who is gender fluent, used the pronouns they / them until recently. It’s difficult because I try to eradicate the barriers between the sexes but then you almost make yourself an example of what something is, he asserts, I don’t want to be symbolized: tomorrow I will be maybe them / them, in twenty years maybe I will be her / his. It’s an ever-changing journey. He now identifies as he / him.
Today also marks the launch of the Reeds sexless makeup collaboration with beauty giant MAC, a first for the brand that has never created a gender specific fluid line before. The origins of the partnerships can be traced back several years to the friendships Reed made with makeup artists at fashion events he attended. Having been that bullied kid, I’m still nervous about walking into a room and being ridiculed, but I really felt at home with these fellow artists, he says.
The idea of a collaboration quickly snowballed into the limited-edition seven-piece line that launches this week. It’s for everyone: no tubes, no brushes. Makeup is meant to be fun! We love contouring, but it’s time for the beauty to be shaken up a bit.
To escape bullying in his youth, Reed, who grew up in Arizona and Los Angeles, lost himself in the society pages of magazines and began to idealize London as an escape from bullying and harassment.
I remember arriving at Liverpool Street station five years ago and thinking: I’m home, he laughs, I love that you can walk down the street and someone in the middle of a drag and a dress bride and someone else is in a suit and no one is blinking an eyelid. Once you enter Central Saint Martins you realize that you are surrounded by these other bullied children, all these other dreamer mates who have been put down. You are part of a community.
As for the future, next on Harris Reed’s hit list to dress up is his ultimate dream Tilda Swinton and the protagonists of Euphoria Zendaya and Hunter Schafer, who is his lifelong crush.
Reed concludes: To be honest, I really want to continue to grow as a designer and push the boundaries. He’s beaming, and before long he’s gone: back to the sequined, tulle-tastic, ethereal world of Harris Reed.
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