ALL THE YOUNG DUDES
Harris Reed’s “glam-rock Victoriana” aesthetic.
“I want to completely blur the lines of gender and challenge preconceived notions of sexuality and the way women and men should dress.”
When BAZAAR calls Harris Reed, he’s up to his elbows in sequins and lamé in a vintage fabric store in downtown Los Angeles. “Tonnes and tonnes of sequins and lamés — it’s so decadent and glam,” Reed says, cheerfully. You could say the same of his designs, which fuse glam-rock androgyny à la Marc Bolan and David Bowie with kitsch-infused Edwardian and Victorian influences via Oscar Wilde and Tilda Swinton’s Orlando. think New Romantic bell sleeves, sheer flares with 14-centimetre platform boots, or perhaps a satin high-neck ruffled shirt dwarfed by a flying-saucer-sized Bo Peep hat tied at the neck with a velvet ribbon. “It’s A
Midsummer Night’s Dream for millennials,” Reed offers. “glam-rock victoriana with a bit of darkness and loads of tossing of the hair and attitude.”
That attitude captured the attention of Harry Styles, who debuted a Harris Reed three-tier ivory ruffled blouse and black wool-and-silk flares onstage in Amsterdam in March, having commissioned Reed for his 2018 world tour wardrobe. Soon afterwards, Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele saw Reed wearing his own designs in a magazine and cast him in Gucci’s cruise 2019 show in Arles, France. Not only did Reed walk the runway in the Alyscamps, a Roman burial ground, in a kimono-style coat, a glittery shirt and glasses, but he was also invited to take over the Gucci Instagram account, which he flooded with his signature honey-dripping excess. Not a bad start for a 22-yearold in only his second year at London’s Central Saint Martins.
“The past few months have been crazy, and I honestly wake up some mornings just crying, but in a positive way,” he says. “i get about 100 DMS every day from young boys and girls everywhere from Australia to Kentucky who are struggling with their [gender] identity, and it really means so much to know I’m helping people. For me, it was never just about the clothes, it was about the message. I want to completely blur the lines of gender and challenge preconceived notions of sexuality and the way women and men should dress.”
It’s an approach Styles was onboard with from the get-go after the pop star’s longtime stylist, Harry Lambert, introduced him to Reed at a gig. “i made it clear to Harry that I’m constantly fighting for a cause as an advocate of the LGBTI community and that if he just wanted a beautiful piece of clothing, he should go to someone else,” Reed says. “It was really incredible to see someone who, for me, is one of the most influential people of my generation care so much about my story and support what I wanted to do.”
Mixing with the likes of Styles and Michele is a long way from Reed’s upbringing in Arizona, USA, where he was bullied after coming out at the age of nine. “when you are being called a faggot and all kinds of terrible things, it’s a dark place, but I now see that as my lighter fuel that I use to blaze a brighter trail from my past experiences,” he says. “i always knew the transformative power clothing has in relation to the human body, so I decided to spark a conversation about gender.”
Reed, who is on a gap year, has already been tapped for a number of collaborations in 2019, to be followed by the launch of his own label. He describes himself as “1000 per cent an activist” for gender fluidity, and argues that creatives must engage with social and political issues. “I think anyone creating today has a responsibility to challenge things that are happening politically and contribute with their own message,” he says. “i can’t just do a cute top. there needs to be a whole story behind it that is promoting some kind of positive change.”
WHEN KARENWALKER was little, her parents took her to Disneyland. “That was one of those magical experiences,” she remembers. “I have a real thing for that park, the nostalgia element. I’ve still got the photo of seven-year-old Karen with Mickey in front of the castle.”
Today, the Kiwi fashion designer enters the world of Disney once more with a collaboration celebrating 90 years of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, whom she describes as the ultimate cultural icons .“mickey and Minnie stand for adventure and whimsy .that’s very much the place we exist in too, ”walker says. “that’s what our Runaway Girl motif stands for: going forth, looking for adventure but with a sense of fun.”
She’s talking about the central part of her Disney collection, an adaptation of the Karen Walker motif — a girl with a ponytail, carrying a stick and bindle. originally hand-drawn in 2001 by walker’s husband and the brand’s creative director, Mikhail Gherman, the Runaway Girl remained untouched until now. “almost the second we started talking about the collaboration with Disney I thought, What if we let Mickey and Minnie use our bindle? I could picture them both in profile, marching forward into the world with the bindle and stick over their shoulders. we’ve never changed it before. But this is Mickey and Minnie Mouse! It’s kind of like a shortterm arranged marriage and we’re the parents, ”walker jokes.
Walker was chosen to represent Australia and New Zealand in the global campaign marking Mickey’s birthday.the timing was fortuitous. Disney approached Walker late last year, soon after she had returned to the iconic Anaheim amusement park, this time with her own daughter, 10-year-old Valentina. “So the whole Disney world was very fresh in my mind,” Walker says. “The mouse ears were still sitting on valentina’s desk at home.”
Fashion has often looked to Disney for inspiration: Mickey at Marc Jacobs (S/S 2013); Bambi at Givenchy (A/W 2013); Donald Duck at Gucci (S/S 2017 menswear) and Beauty & the Beast at Christopher Kane (capsule collection, 2017); Dumbo, Thumper and the Dalmatians at Coach 1941 and Disney Villains at The Blonds (S/S 2019). Collaborations for the 90th include Marc Jacobs, Saint Laurent and Vans; Opening Ceremony held its ‘Happiest Show on Earth’ in Disneyland’s Toontown in March. While not officially part of the celebrations, Jeremy Scott at Moschino is taking the idea of collaboration up a level with his range for H&M featuring a Disney ‘collection within a collection’. “We chose to partner with Karen Walker as she is also a true original, in the fashion field, so her line was a perfect fit for the collaboration,” says Kylie Watson-wheeler, senior vice-president & managing director of The Walt Disney Company for Australia & New Zealand. The heartbeat of the range is Mickey and Minnie holding the bindle, featured on T-shirts and sweatshirts. And while the campaign, which will debut in November, is all about Mickey, Disney allowed Walker to work with Goofy and Donald Duck, too. there are also the statement sunglasses you would expect from Karen Walker — frames with Minnie eyelashes; Mickey’s glove on a frame’s arms.the eyewear will be available from David Jones, walker’s New Zealand, Tokyo and online boutiques, and globally through stockists including Barneys Newyork.the designer’s Playpark store in Auckland will feature a Mickey and Minnie Mouse pop-up. Fun fashion has been a constant for Walker’s brand. Optimism and adventure-seeking are themes the designer continues to embrace. “fashion lives anywhere from extreme fun to extreme ice queen and everything in between. we’ve always existed at the end of the spectrum that’s about fun and smiles,” she reflects. “for us, it’s always been, Are we having fun? Is this making us happy?” The Disney x Karen Walker range is available from November 7; karenwalker.com.
A Harris Reed look (and right).
Harry Styles in a Harris Reed look.
From left: Karen Walker with daughter Valentina Gherman at Disneyland; with her brother Nick and Mickey Mouse in 1977; a look from the Disney collaboration. Below, from top: Disney x Karen Walker Minnie sunglasses, $250, Mickey pouch, $70, and Mickey backpack, $215, karenwalker.com.