If the last few seasons have taught us anything, it’s that “femininity” in fashion no longer belongs solely to women. It is, like grunge or punk, simply a style that has broken free of gender confines and connotations. Tulle, frills, and corsets are being remixed through the aesthetic of young, queer designers—most notably, 21-year-old Harris Reed.
Reed’s clothing references Victorian and Edwardian silhouettes—think ruffled, flared sleeves and trousers, bustier-inspired bodices, puffed shoulders, and ornate lace. His clothes, especially when worn on men, make a loud, self-assured statement, one that reflects Reed’s deep admiration for clothes that, as he put it, “allow somebody to fully inhabit who they’re meant to be.”
Although he is only partway through his second year at London’s Central Saint Martins, the L.A. native has, in recent months, received a great amount of industry attention. And though his is the sort of talent that’s destined for success, he may not have flourished so quickly were it not for stylist Harry Lambert. Mere seconds after Reed posted his work to Instagram for the first time, the renowned British stylist and Editor at Large for 10MEN took notice, and has continued to support Reed—pulling his clothes for editorials and no-big-deal clients like singer-songwriter Harry Styles—ever since. And so it makes sense that, when asked who his favorite young, undiscovered designer is at the moment, Lambert almost immediately responded with his answer: Harris Reed.
HARRY LAMBERT: “I first saw one of [Reed’s] looks from a university project on his Instagram and was immediately fascinated with his point of view. Harris’s presence is not only in his clothes but also in the way he carries himself, towering above everyone in his signature platform shoes and long blonde hair. He’s crafting his vision and message while still studying, already catching the attention of many stylists and celebrities. [Though it’s still] so early into his career, when you see a piece by Reed it already has his stamp on it—a bit of fantasy and glamour that we all crave. His clothes and accessories are contributing to iconic and beautiful editorials, as well as pushing the boundaries in menswear. This is only the beginning for him.”
Standout looks: The first look I saw from Harris: an all-white look with the large hat [that he made for The White Show at Central Saint Martins], and the custom look he made for Harry Styles.
RACHEL HODIN: If you could live in any decade, which would you choose and why?
HARRIS REED: For the 9 to 5 me, I would say the 1920s because I think it would be the most incredible flash of crystals, fringe, and romance. There’s nothing more beautiful than some man in a crisp cummerbund suit looking awfully dapper and shiny and glamorous. And then the Friday to Sunday me would want to live in the ‘70s, with really wide lapel jackets, and amazing flared trousers. Not fully made up, but a kind of glam-rock, sexy historian.
HODIN: Is there a place that you’ve always dreamed of staging a runway show?
REED: I’ve always wanted to have a show at this beach where I spent a lot of my childhood on the coast of England in Pevensey Bay. The tide goes out for almost a mile and it’s like black sand and water—really dramatic and stormy, with torches and a full orchestra playing with a piano in the sand. Every man in my family on my dad’s side (aside from me) has been in the navy, so I have this very deep connection with the ocean. I always think of myself as an aloof pirate—not flamboyant, but quite out-there, confident, and risk-taking.
HODIN: Do you consider your clothes or anything you’ve made to be political?
REED: In my clothing, I try to be as political as possible. I’m not one to write something on a garment, but I’m very much about questioning people and how they view different norms and situations. I would never [create] something just because it’s beautiful. It has to have a deep purpose.
HODIN: Is there any work of art or collection that you find yourself going back to when you’re feeling uninspired and need to get motivated?
REED: I always go to the National Portrait Gallery [in London]. There’s something so centering about looking at these incredible portraits from the 1600s and 1800s. I’ve always said if I didn’t do fashion design, I would love to be a historian.
A physical thing I go back to a lot is this really old book at the Central Saint Martins library. The title is smudged out—it says it’s been checked out since the late 1800s or something, and [it’s filled with so much] knowledge and really amazing portraits. Looking back at these things that are quite old pulls me back into the present and into the future.
HODIN: Of all the pieces you’ve made, which was the hardest to make and why?
REED: Even though it’s a year and a half later, I think it’s still the head-to-toe white piece I made for The White Show [editor’s note: as in, Harry’s favorite look]. It was a giant white hat and this corseted, kind of bustier jacket with big sleeves and trousers. I made it within a two-week period, but it felt like it was years and years of work. Because that piece, that silhouette, that story—there’s a story behind it about this aristocratic boy in the 1800s finding salvation in his sexuality inside an opera house—has informed everything that I do now.
HODIN: What’s your favorite material to use and why?
REED: At the moment, I’m really into tulle. The last collection I wrapped up, my pre-fall 2018 collection, almost every piece involved tulle—whether it was on the backs of trousers, or the front or back of a top. The idea of fluidity within gender, sexuality, and the way people look at the world and themselves [is so important to me and my work]. And what’s more fluid, more beautiful than the human body? With tulle, you can really accentuate, play with, and add dimension to the existing form. It always changes though because I’m also a sucker for satin. Like, give me a good duchesse satin any day.