Few capture the spirit of the British fashion industry quite like Harris Reed. Though the 26-year-old Central Saint Martins graduate is still in the early stages of his career – having produced just five collections to date – he has quickly become one of the most exciting designers on UK soil.
As a student, he was already designing clothes for Harry Styles and Solange. Now, the half-American, half-British talent has expanded his clientele even further, with everyone from Beyoncé and Iman to Adele and Lil Nas X wearing his famously gender-fluid garments. Reed’s is an aesthetic that consistently subverts expectations. Silhouettes are outsized. Stereotypes are turned on their heads. All of which is to say the anticipation surrounding Reed’s London Fashion Week show was palpable.
The location, a cavernous organ-and-chandelier-equipped venue tucked behind Liverpool Street, was draped in scarlet velvet curtains, offering a glimpse at the opulence that was to come. With just a few seats lining the runway, the setting was surprisingly intimate. Guests, including Sam Smith, trickled in to the sombre strains of Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” until the lights went down and out stepped Queen’s Adam Lambert. Few could match Pavarotti’s illustrious version of Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma”, but Lambert’s impressive, spine-tingling vocals came close, setting a melodramatic scene.
As for the collection, well, put it this way: it managed to somehow outshine Lambert’s performance. The first look of 12 was a low-slung white silk skirt with a black velvet corset and outsized sculptural collar. Paired with a long spherical top hat, it felt fittingly regal – a subtle nod to the late monarch, perhaps.
Next came a long-sleeved velvet gown with a peplum fishtail, worn with one of Reed’s signature circle hats. It looked like it had been plucked out of a black tie ball in the 1950s. From then on there was plenty of colour: an eye-popping fuchsia gown juxtaposed a series of orb dresses that comprised peek-a-boo face holes in peacock blue and yolk yellow.
Texturally rich, the collection also featured a profusion of sequins. There was a monochrome polkadot trouser suit and a silver fishtail skirt paired with a breastplate, created with Missoma, depicting celestial symbols. In traditional couture style, the final look was bridal: a balletic white strapless mini dress paired with a crinoline headpiece larger than the skirt itself.
The title’s collection, MISE EN SCÈNE, referenced the “collective effort, community and collaboration that goes into every Harris Reed collection”, the show notes explained. This season, Reed was inspired by “the performative nature of dress, taking inspiration from the rigorous codes of a debutante ball”. Hence why traditional feminine codes, such as crinolines, corsets and headpieces, are reimagined through Reed’s fluid lens. What’s more, as in previous Reed collections, many of the ensembles were created using deadstock fabric.
As models slowly made their way down the runway in their theatrical garments, gently swaying their arms in dance-like motions to the sounds of Lambert belting out Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever”, the mood was akin to that of a Dior show from the 1950s. Such is the mastery of Reed’s craftsmanship. If this is a sign of what’s to come, London Fashion Week could be set for its most defiant season yet.