How is #SecondhandSeptember going? If you need some inspiration, take note of designer Harris Reed’s new demi-couture collection …
The American British designer Harris Reed describes his design DNA as “Romanticism Gone Nonbinary”. His forte is sparking conversations about gender and sexuality by putting the wearer of his clothes, and their fluidity, front and centre. It’s no surprise that his collections draw attention and are loved by celebrities and designers such as Harry Styles, Solange, Alessandro Michele and Ezra Miller to name a few. Most recently he dressed Iman for the Met Gala 2021 in a spectacular gold-feathered headdress and hoop-skirted gown: many thought it was the best outfit of the event.
His new “demi-couture” collection, called “Found”, was presented as a salon-style show at The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion during London Fashion Week. The haunting vocals of musician Kelsey Lu provided the soundtrack against which Reed showed ten looks – all an amalgamation of resourcefulness and ingenuity.
Reed wanted to continue his efforts to grow a responsible brand, while still using extravagant fabrics. His solution was to source many of the fabrics and elements from Oxfam and repurpose them for this collection. Some of these second-hand pieces were off-the-peg, others clearly hand-stitched; all were given a new existence. “Working with these older pieces has offered me a fresh insight into construction. While breathing new life into these looks, I’ve been able to hone my techniques and learn from the original state of the garment,” he explained.
Reed worked to a strict black and white colour palette and used heteronormative ideas that surrounds wedding day fashion as inspiration. He then liberated each second-hand item into something more romantic and fluid, undoing seams and repurposing veils. A tiered wedding dress is spliced with groomsmen tailoring or bridal lace is reworked into a 19th-century waistcoat. The result is a dramatic, cinematic collection reminiscent of Cecil Beaton’s designs for Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady.
Lorna Fallon, retail director at Oxfam comments: “Harris Reed shows it’s possible to transform a second-hand wedding dress into haute couture gracing the runway. Upcycling is a brilliant way to breathe new life into clothes and tailor what you find in a charity shop to your tastes. This way we can help protect our planet by giving clothes a longer life, while raising money to help people around the world beat poverty.”
A look from “Found” will be displayed in the Selfridges X Oxfam space, curated by Irish stylist Bay Garnett and will be available for purchase, with all proceeds going to Oxfam; www.selfridges.com.
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