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Harris Reed Takes a 'Paper Doll' Approach to Demi-Couture

It can be tough to maintain momentum as a young designer when you come out of the gate strong, like Harris Reed did in 2020, going from Central Saint Martins to Harry Styles’ closet in record speed. The fashion industry’s attention span is short, and it doesn’t allow emerging talent much room to stumble or work through things when the audience impatient and ready to move on to the next. 

Reed’s proposition of gender-fluid, highly-crafted theatrical “demi couture” was incredibly impactful, especially at a time when sweatpants abounded, and quickly found a home among like-minded celebrities. He established a look, and continued to play with and expand on it through larger collections and collaborations. Though it was singularly, unmistakably his, over time it did feel familiar and repetitive — especially after he got the job at Nina Ricci

Reed’s February 2024 collection for his namesake brand, presented on the eve of London Fashion Week, feels like a triumphant step forward, a reassurance of his ambition and imagination. 

According to the collection notes, the designer was inspired by 19th century shadow puppets and illustrations, particularly the similarities between these and his own design process. “For Reed, the silhouettes always appear first, in a line-up of dramatic outlines,” the brand writes. “Once these silhouettes are defined, the process of placing fabrics and details commences.” For this collection, he took a “paper doll” approach, “placing different patterns and prints on to the shapes and ‘dressing’ the figures.”

That playful juxtaposition translates into mismatched proportions — a shapely peplum bustier with a neckline that curves upward, paired with an austere black column skirt, a sculptural tailored flared jumpsuit with a sweeping draped waist that cascades down one side, a corseted gown cinched at the knees with hand-beaded fringe cascading from the protruding neckline down to the floor like a curtain. It’s also reflected in the materials: Reed repurposes archival Fromental wallpaper, hand-painting and embroidering the panels to create the florals seen throughout the collection (“like a child cutting up leftover wallpaper to make their doll a new dress,” per the show notes). 

It’s a tight collection — 10 looks that, while connected fundamentally through exploration of shape and curve, aren’t iterative. Instead, each one is a distinct interpretation of the source material, fitting together like puzzle pieces to reveal the full story. It turns the page, building on established brand codes (which are very much present, for fans who have been around since the beginning: rounded shapes, corsetry, headpieces by Vivienne Lake) and pushing them forward. 

See every look from Harris Reed’s February 2024 collection below. 

Harris Reed Fall 2024. Photo: Marc Hibbert/Courtesy of Harris Reed

Harris Reed Fall 2024. Photo: Marc Hibbert/Courtesy of Harris Reed

Harris Reed Fall 2024. Photo: Marc Hibbert/Courtesy of Harris Reed

Harris Reed Fall 2024. Photo: Marc Hibbert/Courtesy of Harris Reed

Harris Reed Fall 2024. Photo: Marc Hibbert/Courtesy of Harris Reed

Harris Reed Fall 2024. Photo: Marc Hibbert/Courtesy of Harris Reed

Harris Reed Fall 2024. Photo: Marc Hibbert/Courtesy of Harris Reed

Harris Reed Fall 2024. Photo: Marc Hibbert/Courtesy of Harris Reed

Harris Reed Fall 2024. Photo: Marc Hibbert/Courtesy of Harris Reed

Harris Reed Fall 2024. Photo: Marc Hibbert/Courtesy of Harris Reed

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Source: Fashionista.com

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