The Daily Telegraph

Meet the new (gender-fluid) king of fashion

Beyoncé and Harry Styles adore him and he wowed London Fashion Week. Harris Reed has very much arrived, says Laura Craik


SAlexander Mcqueen and Harris Reed both have a knack for high theatre and shows with an emotional punch

taging a fashion show is always a fraught affair. But never more so than during a period of mourning, mere days before the state funeral of Britain’s beloved and longest-serving monarch. In the run-up to his presentati­on, fashion designer Harris Reed posted an Instagram message that summed up the thoughts of his contempora­ries about to show at London Fashion Week. “After the news of the Queen’s passing, it’s been incredible to see how the community has pulled together,” he wrote. “I hope it instils how important fashion is at times like these. Fashion makes us dream. It brings us joy.”

Reed’s clothes have certainly been bringing joy to a slew of celebritie­s in recent months. Harry Styles wore one of his skirts on the cover of US Vogue. Adele wore one of his pussy bow blouses in a recent music video. Reed dressed Iman, David Bowie’s widow, for this year’s Met Gala, and has also provided clothes for actresses Emma Watson and Emma Corrin, and pop stars Miley Cyrus and Beyoncé, who appeared on the July cover of British Vogue sitting on a horse, dressed in one of his signature circular headpieces.

Reed posted on Instagram at the time: “This one’s for my queers and people stepping out into this world being nothing less than they truly are: loud, proud, and turning heads by using fashion as their weapon to invoke change, conversati­on and hope.”

That Reed expresses himself with the same soundbite-loving conviction as a motivation­al speaker is just one reason that he’s so beloved by his fans. At 6ft 4in in his socks and several inches taller in his platform shoes, 26-year-old Reed is a striking figure who charms everyone who meets him, including the notoriousl­y hard to please Anna Wintour. With a gimlet eye on the zeitgeist, Condé Nast’s global chief content director recognises that Reed’s gender fluidity, and his outspokenn­ess about it, makes him very much a designer for our times. Like Harry Styles or Timothée Chalamet, Reed’s unabashed wearing of makeup, dresses and platform heels makes him hugely appealing to Gen Z, many of whom find binary gender definition­s both limiting and old-fashioned.

Part of the reason Reed’s star has risen so high in such a short time is thanks to the connection­s he forged in Hollywood, where he was brought up by his Oscar-winning documentar­ymaker father, Nick (who is English) and his American mother, Lynette, a former model. While he has never denied being a “nepo baby” (Gen Z’s term for those who have benefited from nepotism by dint of having parents already famous in their chosen field), he also recognises that connection­s can only get a person so far. As he recently opined in an interview: “What keeps me in the room is myself.”

Those who know Reed attest to a charisma that draws people to him like moths to a flame – almost literally, given his shock of fiery copper hair. “Harris just has that star quality. I think he’s the next great British talent, the next Alexander Mcqueen,” says Marisa Hordern, founder of the jewellery brand, Missoma, who approached Reed to design a collection last year. “One of the pieces we created was a butterfly necklace, because the butterfly embodies both sexes, and is very fluid.”

Fashion has been trying to anoint “the next Alexander Mcqueen” ever since the designer tragically passed away in 2010 at the height of his talents, aged 40. Superficia­lly, there are similariti­es between Mcqueen and Reed: both have a knack for high theatre, and excel at shows which pack an emotional punch. Like Mcqueen, Reed loves historical references, tailoring and corsetry, though he would probably be the first to admit that, at 26, he has a way to go before becoming as adroit in the art of tailoring as Mcqueen. He would also admit that society is more accepting of homosexual­ity and gender fluidity than it was in the 1990s, when Mcqueen was starting out.

If Mcqueen wrestled with his sexuality, Reed is more at ease with his. Mcqueen’s muses were women like former model Annabel Nielson and Isabella Blow, Reed’s are people like him, defined less by their gender. “I’m very fluid and I still love that concept, but I hate the notion that there’s now a ‘gender-fluid’ category,” he recently told Soho House magazine. “Are we just making another box?”

Thursday evening’s presentati­on was Reed’s first proper catwalk show since graduating from Central Saint Martin’s a mere two years ago, and was impressive in ambition and reach. Held in the gothic environs of the Dutch Hall, a Grade Ii-listed church in the City of London, the show was full of the exaggerate­d proportion­s for which Reed is most known, and which command such presence on magazine covers, red carpets and social media.

Titled “Mise en Scène”, the collection explored the performati­ve nature of dressing, using the codes of a debutante ball. Ball gowns with crinoline skirts were inverted, the models’ corseted waists looking all the narrower for being offset with volumes of silk organza. Hats, by long-time collaborat­or Vivienne Lake, came in Reed’s trademark spherical forms that act as halos to draw attention to the wearers’ faces.

With the Queen’s sad death front of mind, it was hard not to imagine the regal fabrics – velvet, duchess satin and silk – as tributes, an idea enhanced by their rich colour scheme of peacock and royal blue.

The final exit, the bride, clutched a lily of the valley bouquet – the Queen’s favourite flower – was another tribute, as was Adam Lambert singing Queen’s Who Wants To Live Forever, a spectacle that caused Reed’s mother, at least, to shed a tear. If the show must go on, Reed’s was as sensitive an iteration as any, one that cements his reputation for the “fluid fashion” that his fans so love.

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 ?? ?? Breaking the mould: Harris Reed, left, debuted his latest collection in a show at London Fashion Week, above, entitled ‘Mise en Scène’
Breaking the mould: Harris Reed, left, debuted his latest collection in a show at London Fashion Week, above, entitled ‘Mise en Scène’

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