As a year like no other finally comes to a close, many of us might find ourselves reflecting on the grand ambitions we held at the beginning of lockdown, and whether or not we fulfilled them. (Looking back, how many of us did actually follow through on our goals to learn a new language or master the art of sourdough?) And for anyone feeling anxious about their lack of productivity, it would be wise to stop reading about Jeremy O. Harris’s year now. Not only did the actor and playwright pick up a record 12 Tony Award nominations for his breakout hit Slave Play, but he also found the time to premiere his new film Zola at Sundance, appear in Gus van Sant’s short film series for Gucci, and ink an overall deal with HBO which included a fund to support emerging theatre-makers.
Now, Harris is launching his latest venture, one that is arguably his most unexpected yet: a new 20-piece, gender-neutral capsule collection with Canadian e-commerce site SSENSE. The collection is part of a new initiative titled SSENSE WORKS, which provides a platform for genre-bending creators to find an outlet in fashion. Any initial surprise—surprise partly in that he managed to find the time—fades fast when thinking back to Harris’s steady reputation for turning showstopping looks, from the flamboyant Gucci and Thom Browne tailoring he favours on the red carpet, to the more relaxed pieces he regularly sports by the likes of Telfar and Bode.
His SSENSE collection may consist of pieces that fall at the more casual end of Harris’s broad sartorial spectrum, but the story underpinning it is a little more baroque. “The entire collection is a play—it’s a 15-line monologue—and if you were to get every piece of the collection, you would have the full text of the play,” Harris explains. “I got the idea from my love of the movie Phantom Thread. I love the idea of someone putting hidden messages inside of clothing, so I wanted it to be sometimes explicit, and sometimes a surprise to the wearer. In some pieces, like the sweatsuits, it’s sort of the main event, but some of the more revealing or vulnerable lines are hidden in the waistband of the skirt or the lining of the pocket, that you only discover when you put your hand inside.”