“In a sometimes judgmental world, our costumes can change who we want to be seen as, and who we are destined to be.” Florence Pugh, spotlit in a giant glittering silver-and-black halo hat, nailed the essence of the Harris Reed phenomenon in her introductory speech at his show at Tate Modern.
As the entire fashion world knows, Harris is destined for Paris—he’ll be debuting at Nina Ricci imminently. So with this, only his fourth own-name collection since graduating from Central Saint Martins, and a Hollywood actor added to his growing fold of performer friends, he had a lot to celebrate—and a lot still to prove. He did it with a cinematically-lit circular procession of 10 black, gold, and silver, draped and swagged looks, and a theme centered on theatricality itself.
“All the world’s a stage,” he’d declared, earlier, quoting from Shakespeare’s As You Like It. “I’m someone who likes to play with grandeur and performative clothing. So I loved how in William Shakespeare, back in the day—even though it was different—men are dressing like women. This constant gender play for me felt very aligned with the brand.”
The American side of his consciousness, he added, also locked onto the idea of beauty pageants. In a further plot-twist, the swathes of gold lame, used to create panniers, wired stoles, and domed crinolines, were actually made from reclaimed theatre curtains from all over London. They glimmered glamorously alongside the glinting silver sequins of the harlequin bodysuits.
The look-book photos provided for Vogue Runway capture all the drama and the detail of the silhouettes, but not the fact that this was the first Harris Reed show which successfully broke the mold of his early tableaux presentations, and allowed the models to walk. That was, literally, a step forward—although, in these days of ever more wildly competitive event dressing, the willingness of celebrities to carry the vast and vertiginous on their bodies makes practicality and comfort almost cease to matter.
Harris Reed as a custom business makes total sense when he has loyal friends and is working in a zeitgeist where entertainment and fashion have fused. Up next, we’ll be seeing what he brings to Paris, in what is traditionally a more ready-to-wear environment. Harry Styles already famously walked out the first Harris Reed for Nina Ricci tuxedo suit—a preview that already broke with the womenswear tradition of the brand. Whatever happens, the excitement around that launch is guaranteed to blow up Paris fashion week.
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This story was originally published on Vogue.com.