London Fashion Week started on a high note with Harris Reed‘s sophomore collection. The phenomenal autumn-winter 2022 collection, staged at the Saint John the Evangelist Church, was accompanied by Sam Smith’s live performance of Desirée’s “Kissing You”. The musician was surrounded by an elaborate set of paper clouds and models wearing creations made from repurposed fabrics. And here’s another magical detail about Reed’s latest outing: those fabrics came from the home of the heir to the Bussandri upholstery empire, who the designer happened to meet in a café in Northern Italy where his mother lives. “She looked like Donatella Versace’s twin sister. I said, ‘I love your bag.’ She said, ‘Oh, it’s actually from our villa…” And the rest is history. Titled “60 Years a Queen” after Sir Herbert Maxwell’s 1897 book about Queen Victoria, Reed’s collection investigated Victoriana through a “Yas, queen!” club kid lens. “I love how queer culture took on this regal fabulousness,” he explained, gesturing at a gender-nonbinary house model wearing an elongated plush golden suit repurposed from those Bussandri fabrics. As for the rest of the young designer’s silhouettes, they weren’t exemplary of a collection created to explore a specific design idea. Rather, they were DIY-esque explorations of the language of haute couture, and, to a larger degree, testament to the fact that the Harris Reed brand isn’t necessarily about design, anyway. It’s about him as a performative phenomenon rooted in the generational values expressed through his genderless creations and the nonbinary people he puts them in. The message was illustrated in a breastplate spliced from a male and female torso, then pierced with arrows Saint Sebastian-style. But Reed is far from a martyr to his cause. In fact, business is going so well he’s happy he didn’t go down the ready-to-wear route like some of his Central Saint Martins classmates.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.