A chat with designer-turned-Gucci-model Harris Reed

30.08.2018 | Blog , Culture , Fashion | BY:

American-born Central Saint Martin third-year fashion design student Harris Reed has quickly became on of the most recent names to know in fashion.

With his natural appetite for androgyny fused with an impeccable taste in design, Reed has found himself gaining attention from celebrities such as Solange Knowles and Troye Sivan. He’s also designed collections exclusively for singer-songwriter Harry Styles. Only a few months ago , the designer was tapped by Gucci to take over their instagram stories during the Cruise 2019 show and to debut on the runway himself in Arles, France.

Twin contributor Jordan Anderson sits down with the creative to decipher the details of his whirlwind of success.

Harry Styles sporting one of Reed’s looks during a performance.

Jordan Anderson (JA) : First of all I have to ask, what were your exact thoughts walking down that aisle for Gucci in Arles?

Harris Reed (HR) : I remember the one thought going through my head was that this is it, this is the beginning of it all. With all the editors from all sorts of magazines that I’ve admired sitting in the audience, it was just kind of this overwhelming feeling knowing that I am one of the only designers that is being supported in this way by such huge brand. After all the hard work I put in, and am still putting in, this was like the best sort of graduation anyone could ever have.

JA: What’s an average day like in the life of Harris reed?

HR:  Lately it’s been waking up at 7am and attending to emails, running out to get coffee and starting to do research on different things happening around London. I usually visit the National Portrait Gallery and other art exhibitions around town where I often find inspiration for my work.

Some days I’ll return home and do interviews all evening or some days I’ll stay up sewing until 4 a.m, but pretty much the bulk of my days involve emails, research and sewing.

JA: The title of your last collection was the “The Lost Romantic Boys of the Edwardian Summer Holiday.” What was the story behind it?

HR: The collection I did before this was a 13 look compilation for Harry Styles, which was what kind of led me to this project. That entire collection was inspired by the summers I spent down at the seaside in England with my grandparents. All the men in my family are kind of men of the sea and I’ve always felt kind of like the odd one out. It’s sort of a play on my interpretation of what I would look like if I was to ever be come one these characters.

A look from a previous collection of the designer.

JA: What’s your design process like?

HR: I always start with a very strong character. Then I create a narrative around this persona and from there I dive into the design process through collaging, which is where I create a silhouette. It’s always a constant back and forth between collaging and working with the physical pieces as feel is very important to me in the creation of these characters. I end up doing a lot of hands on work while doing my sketching and collaging at the same time.

JA: People often label your work as androgynous, but do you consider yourself a menswear or womenswear designer?

HR: Even though I’m thinking about gender constantly when it comes to the physical design process I try not to imagine my characters as gendered. I imagine them more as fluid beings, it’s more about the body,  the shapes,   forms and the personality traits rather than all the labels.

So no, I wouldn’t place myself in either of those categories.

Singer Troye Sivan in a Harris Reed look

JA: If you could use one movie, a song,  a poem or some type of media to define your work what would it be?

HR: It would surely be cross baby of the movies Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)  and Orlando (1992)  .

JA: When looking at your work, it’s noticeable that a lot of the pieces are quite similar to your personal style. Is your work a reflection of yourself?

HR: It’s quite funny because when I started designing, I noticed that the second I started making pieces that were for myself the response was much greater. I would definitely say that a lot of times my collections hold aspects of myself and my personality.

JA: Who is your work for?

HR: My work is for a very mixed group of people, from 16 year-old girls to 60 year old women. Everyone has a different perceptive on it: some people think it’s quite rock n roll, while some think it’s very tasteful and victorian like . It is for anyone who’s not afraid to dress up and understand that they’re going to spark conversation by wearing my pieces.

JA: I noticed when composing your look books and doing personal shoots that most of the models you use are black men. Was this intentional and why?

HR: I can never do anything for only the sake of being pretty or beautiful. I always have to be tackling issues that are important. For a short time in my life I did modelling and one of the things I noticed was the lack of diversity, so I always try to be  as inclusive as possible. Also for me it’s more about the people I meet and their personalities. I would rather meet someone, get to know them and shoot them for my collection rather than just picking a random model from an agency.

Artiste Solange Knowles in a full look by Harris Reed

JA: Is a college education important for one wanting to be a designer ?

HR: It’s interesting because I’m obviously  quite fortunate to have such great success before even completing university. However I’ve found CSM to be such an amazing experience. I look at the work I did a year ago and compare it to what I’m doing now and I see how I’ve experienced such enormous growth, and a lot of that was thanks to the professors and friends I’ve met here.  So I think it’s good for growth. However I think there are some people who make it work without schooling . It just depends on the person. I would say it’s not mandatory, but it’s 100% beneficial if it’s within your means.

JA: What are some of the challenges you experience being a student who’s already in the spotlight?

HR: Finding the time to do everything is difficult. I’m a ‘yes’ person, I love to collaborate so the biggest challenge is knowing when to say no and understanding my limits.

JA: Can you tell me about a time that was scary for you?

HR: Moving to London from America for me was like coming out of a cocoon. When I got to London I was welcomed with such an accepting energy that pushed me to being more fluent and embrace who I was. One of the scariest moments for me was physically opening up and wearing these extravagant things that better represent me.  Sporting these looks in public and worrying about what people will think. It was kinda just about that moment of physically coming out of a closet dressed in all these extravagant, decadent pieces.

JA: What would be the dream for your career ?

HR: I think it would be having a huge business that is completely gender fluid and which is giving back to the community. That’s successful in breaking down the fundamentals of the way fashion looks at gender and personally being a role model to people like myself.

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Elliss’ Unconscious Clothing For Natural Women

24.11.2016 | Fashion | BY:

ELLISS is an exciting new brand that was founded earlier this year by young designer Elliss Solomon. Elliss’ first collection, entitled ‘Unconscious Clothing’, features flattering, contemporary designs, often emblazoned with bold prints, while staying true to the brand’s sustainable ethos. Elliss designs and makes the clothes in the UK to maintain a low carbon footprint, and only uses sustainable organic materials like cotton, hemp and bamboo. We spoke to Elliss about her inspiration behind the brand and the challenges of starting up her own fashion line.

What made you want to become a fashion designer?

I always knew that I wanted to do something creative and decided early that I wanted to study fashion at Central St Martins, which is where I ended up. I used to be very experimental with my outfits. I now dress quite simply and I am more conscious of the small details. That is where the design aesthetic for ELLISS has stemmed from.

Can you tell us a little bit about your vision behind the brand?

I design individual pieces that are beautiful, unusual and easy to wear: clothes that have a story. I am conscious of every step of the process – from how the garment will make you feel, to where it is made and from what materials. The fabrics I use are soft and natural and the garments are made in England to maintain a low carbon footprint. Every item is vegan friendly. The first collection is called ‘unconscious clothing’ which is a play on the idea of the ‘unconscious consumer’. I want the women who buy my clothes to not necessarily be looking for something eco friendly, but to choose a piece because of the design – to unconsciously be conscious.

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How do you incorporate political issues into your work?

I am inspired by women who spoke out before others would. This collection incorporates 18th and 19th century portraiture into prints. Each painting or photograph is carefully placed to flatter the female form. The prints are slightly risqué and tongue in cheek. I want the women who wear my clothes to feel confident and empowered.

What materials do you use?

The Jerseys I have chosen for this collection are made from organic cotton, hemp and bamboo. Hemp is the most sustainable fabric. It grows quickly and is so dense it doesn’t allow for weeds. It is also naturally breathable and can be very soft. It hasn’t always had the best reputation but I want to change that. Hemp can be lightweight and delicate!

Which other brands or labels are you inspired by?

I am inspired by small brands that are authentic in their ideas and production. Veja is a footwear brand that has a really interesting supply chain. Although they do use leather, I am still waiting for someone to do something fresh and innovative with sustainable leather alternatives.

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How do you choose the names for your designs?

The names come from the different activists that I have referenced in the prints and women in my life who influence me. The Anna body is named after Anna Kingsford, an anti-vivisectionist, vegetarian and women’s rights campaigner who has heavily inspired the prints.

What have been the most challenging aspects of setting up your own clothing line?

There are a lot of challenges but each stage is rewarding when you finally find a solution. I am always looking to my friends and family for feedback. Sourcing everything from fabrics to packaging takes time. When we find a supplier that is great to work with or a fabric that we can continue to use, things become easier. All of our postal packaging is recycled, from the stickers to the mailers. It’s really important to me to waste as little as possible.

What’s next for the brand?

Our online shop has just launched, which is really exciting! The first collection is available to buy now. The next step is working on designs for the second release. I am researching new and inspiring prints at the moment. I can’t wait to see it all come together!

ELLISS is available to shop online at www.elliss.co.uk

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Stitching It Together With Molly Goddard

08.11.2016 | Fashion | BY:

British talent and emerging designer Molly Goddard has established a strong signature aesthetic thanks to her collections of romantic, voluminous tulle dresses. In her first art partnership, the designer has paired up with NOW Gallery in Greenwich Peninsula to create an immersive exhibition in which visitors are invited to explore her design ethos within a creative gallery space.

The installation sees Goddard’s creations rendered in exaggerated forms: six tulle dresses made from 20-30 feet long reams of material hang throughout the space. The presentation invites a reimagining of Goddard’s work, and allows the craftsmanship behind the brand to take centre stage.

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As with Goddard’s previous London Fashion Week presentations, the new exhibition at NOW Gallery is participatory, and visitors will be able to sew shapes and patterns of their choice directly onto the hanging dresses. There will even be videos for first-time embroiders.

Speaking about the exhibition, Molly Goddard said: “I am so excited to be able to really celebrate craft technique in such an extreme visual way, making oversize, non precious interactive pieces is key to what I love and what the brand aims to represent. I can’t wait to see the stories which will be told through embroidery and to witness what skills people have or manage to discover when visiting the exhibition.”

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4th November – 19th February, NOW Gallery at Greenwich Peninsula (North Greenwich)

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Getting To Know Emerging Designer Gotal Ryam

30.10.2016 | Fashion | BY:

The Central Saint Martin’s graduate, Gotal Ryam creates clothing that is at the intersection of fashion and art, RTW and couture. Having realised her dream of becoming a designer, she was brought to London from Paris and hasn’t looked back since. Having launched her e-shop this week, we catch up with this fashion designer to watch.

Tell us about how you started in the industry?

Following my move from Paris to London, I ended up in Soho where my interest in fashion peaked. My desire to draw beautiful garments led me to Central Saint Martins where I studied fashion drawing; finally last year I decided to launch my own collection.

How would you describe your design aesthetic?

I would describe my design aesthetic as Pret à Couture, a mix between Pret à Porter and Haute Couture.

You describe your line as a mix of fashion and art. As an emerging designer which designers and artists do you look up?

Thierry Mugle, Célin, Azzedine Alaia.

Who is your customer?

The modern and independent woman with a taste for fashion who is equally at ease in trainers as well as in highend pieces.

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Tell us about your AW16 collection, what was the inspiration? 

The collection is called Geometric shades from RBK it has been inspired by the geometric aspects of Origami. This collection is made entirely of wool. It is the first collection that I wish to dedicate to my mother who has given me a taste for fashion and who embodies timeless style (RBK stands for Rebecca, my mother’s name).

Which is your favourite piece in the line?

The coat, Khamta – it is essentially a piece that I created by asking myself, what coat would I like to wear this season. It represents the various aspects of my personality – both boyish and quirky. Its design is a patchwork – a mixture that I believe represents the person that I am today.

What do you love most about your job?

Creating something new!

 

Check out Gotal Ryam’s e-shop

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Tods x Central Saint Martins

27.12.2013 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

Created in January 2012 with Jefferson Hack, the No_Code collection aims to combine the brand’s technical expertise with Hack’s creativity. Each student offered their own interpretation of Tod’s No_Code in the form of videos, illustrations or photographs, which were then judged by a board of the university’s professors.

The six finalists work can be seen here: www.todsnocode.com and a video diary can be seen here: www.youtube.com/todsnocode

Text by Beccy Hill

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1 Granary

15.05.2013 | Art , Blog , Fashion | BY:

Central Saint Martins boasts a reputation as one of the world's most prestigious art schools. Now a group of its students have launched a biannual print publication celebrating the university's exceptional talents, entitled 1 Granary.

Founded and edited by Olya Kuryshchuk, the debut issue features alumni such as Katie Grand, Robin Derrick, Kate Phelan and John Galliano, as well as the most exciting new talent currently studying at CSM's King's Cross campus.

Twin spoke to associate editor Greg French about the magazine's inception, vision and future. Read on for the exclusive interview…

Central Saint Martins has had a longstanding reputation and legacy. In the age of digital publishing and university spending cuts, what made it important to do this magazine now?

I think it's incredibly important to be able to find a sense of permanent presence alongside digital publishing. There seems to be a constant conflict between digital and print, yet there needs to be more of an understanding that both can support and be used alongside each other to push concepts further than previously possible. It seemed important as it's a new beginning for the college in its new premises. We really wanted something physical to sit alongside our site, as a milestone for this great turning point in the college's history.

What ethos lies at the heart of 1 Granary?

At the heart of magazine are unity and hard w

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ork, not only in terms of the amount of work that we put into establishing 1 Granary, but also in the level of craftsmanship that is put into each garment, artwork and editorial content that we show. It's about showcasing all the amazing talent and saying that it is possible and achievable, regardless of what is or isn't happening in the education system or the economy.

How would you describe the process of putting together the debut issue, were there any surprises or directional changes?

It was actually really liberating. I've worked on magazines before, but this was the first thing that wasn't bound to anything. We didn't answer to anyone and that gave us a platform to experiment, try new things and do it completely in the way that we wanted. We have an amazing team and had so much fun putting it all together. It was exhausting at times as we were all juggling internships, jobs and college work, but at the same time it was our way of resting because we loved doing it so much.

What can we expect for Issue No. 2?

It's still very much in its early stages, but the main thing you can expect is a continuing debut of really great, fresh, raw talent and a team that isn't afraid to take risks.

1 Granary Issue #1 is available to pre-order and hits newstands on May 20.

1granary.com

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