February 25, 2024


The art of Fashion

Searching for Paul Harnden, Fashion’s Most Reclusive Designer

3 min read

About eight many years in the past, the actor Jeremy Powerful, who performs Kendall Roy in Succession and who is known for his esoteric, romantic tastes in vogue, which match the a lot more verbose features of his character, found himself in Brighton, a seaside town on the south coast of England. Brighton is dwelling to a sizable college, a flourishing array of LGBTQ venues, and the secretive shoemaker and vogue designer Paul Harnden, whose classic-searching, vaguely Dickensian pieces are designed by some of England’s oldest mills, in conventional tweeds, or silks or strong Ventile. Powerful made a decision to use the situation to observe Harnden down. He experimented with an LLC handle, tried out Google Earth. He did anything he could, he explained to me, “in the hopes of getting a pair of coveted P.H. boots, but to no avail.” Harnden was undiscoverable. “The trail went cold. A riddle wrapped in a secret inside an enigma, produced with intense treatment and artistry,” Solid reported.

To Powerful, this only included to the enchantment. “He is reclusive, un-self-trying to get, and fully commited to the function exclusively—those values, to me, appear to be immanent in the garments,” he explained of Harnden, who is recognized for being intensely distinct and managed. He sells to only a handful of retailers, usually no a lot more than just one or two in every single metropolis. He not often adjustments his styles. He insists that his clothing is not discounted on sale, in no way loaned for photoshoots, by no means bought online. “He is executing a little something that is just about the actual opposite of what Walter Benjamin termed ‘Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’,” Robust reported, citing the theory that replication can undermine an object’s “aura.” He named what Harnden does “ineffable and serious,” noting that in “a entire world of expanding noise,” he is making an attempt to develop his very own, clear seem. “Someone who does that, in any area, is as rare as a snow leopard these days and as important.”

Harnden’s dresses are also worn by Brad Pitt. By Daniel Day-Lewis. By John Galliano, who after claimed, in 2010, to “buy all my stuff from him.” “He’s very Greta Garbo,” he advised WWD. “I cannot get keep of him. I believe that he life in England by the sea.” WWD ran a individual report, “The Mysterious Paul Harnden,” in which Adrian Joffe, the spouse of Rei Kawakubo and head of the retailer Dover Avenue Industry, which sells Harnden’s work, stated that it was “beyond vogue.” This impressed a piece in New York magazine’s the Minimize, “The Mysterious Designer John Galliano Loves” in which the reporter, baffled and awed, pointed out “Nobody’s actually met him.”

The initial working day I check out to contact Harnden is a gray Wednesday in January. That 7 days, the Italian luxurious brand name Bottega Veneta announced a takeover of the Fantastic Wall of China, emblazoning a stretch of the construction with its tangy green branding. Right after months of backlash towards fashion’s scale and speed—its relentless championing of the new, the opulent—and many pious-seeming, head-hanging guarantees to rethink, post-pandemic, the sector was presently grinding back again into its normal rhythms. Brands were, as soon as again, flying journalists across the world for fashion reveals. Outlets have been taking shipping of new stock, marking down what experienced arrived just a few months ahead of. And public relations specialists from Paris to New York were being soliciting focus for their designer customers. Harnden, on the other hand, did not seem to be to want to speak.

I searched fruitlessly for a phone quantity, an email handle, anything. His web site has no call information just a white webpage, with a jumble of textual content: ^8m*+,J1/4%?@p=~#3Kf. I punched this into Google, hoping it could be a clever clue, and uncovered nothing at all except a blog site write-up, from 2010, by a person else complaining about how impossible it is to get in touch with Paul Harnden.