The work of Harris Reed, one of the next generation stars of the first gender-fluid London Fashion Week ever, is a stylistic fantasy and a sign of change. While the Anglo-American designer makes his debut with a demi-couture collection consisting of 6 looks – complete with soaring handcrafted headpieces – and spear a new genderless make-up line in collaboration with MAC, tells the story of how he got here (including that first fateful encounter with Harry Styles).

With a touching composition written in the first person, the designer offers gods suggestions to himself when he was 9 – the age in which he made his first coming out, in which he was bullied and marginalized and in which he discovered the boundless power of his creativity.

Fall winter 2021 2022 collection

© Jenny Brough

“Dear 9 year old myself,

“You live in California now, but you are about to make the first of about 30 moves along a journey that will take you around the world, from Seattle to Paris to London. Be brave. You will encounter a lot of hatred, they will make fun of you and you will feel alone – but you will do large what’s this and you will always be honest with what you feel.

“I know you can’t imagine it now, when you spend the weekends alone in your room trying on clothes, but one day you will dress the greatest rock star of your generation (something you will predict with disturbing accuracy to a college mate a evening in dormitory). After you graduate from Central Saint Martins during a global pandemic, you will build your debut collection during the lockdown and present it during the first gender-fluid fashion week in British history. You will always fight for the beauty of fluidity, because you are deeply convinced that anyone should be able to represent themselves in their truest and most authentic guise.

“The path to becoming today’s 24 year old will not be easy – I can assure you – but you will never lose sight of who you are. (Trust me when I say it will be a huge buzz when you get there.) There will be people who won’t want to understand your story, but what matters most are those who will listen to it. One day, you will tell your story to Vogue.

Backstage fashion show of the fall winter 2021 2022 collection

© Ho Hai Tran

“When you start fourth grade in Arizona, you’ll be labeled ‘the gay kid’ even before you know what the term ‘gay’ means. Some of the other parents will ask the teachers to remove their children from your class for fear that your homosexuality will ‘infect’ them. You won’t have friends, you will have panic attacks instead. But Arizona will be the place where you succeed, where you will fulfill yourself. That’s where you will understand the power of clothes and your imagination.

Fall winter 2021 2022 collection

© Jenny Brough

“There will be days at school when they’ll come looking for you in the boys’ bathrooms because of what you’re wearing (for the record, the Havaianas flip-flops with Swarovski). Hidden in one of the cabins, you will feel completely alone, but you are not. Sometimes, on the playground, you will briefly hear your mother defending you. He will always be the backbone of your life, and his adventures – everywhere, from Tokyo to Paris – will show you a world beyond bullies.

“You will also have some imaginary friends. With them you will fall in love with disguises, when the hours spent creating looks in front of the mirror reveal a side of yourself that you did not know – and something in you clicks. This year, one evening you will declare it to your parents with two short sentences: ‘I like boys. I’m gay.’

“From that moment on, clothes will play a fundamental role in your story. The following week you will wear to school a pink shirt and you will have the feeling of regaining your strength – a moment you will never forget. Soon, a Nordstrom saleswoman will point you and your mom to the girls’ clothing department and change your life on her own by saying, ‘You can wear these things too.’ It will make you feel legitimated. One day you will look at Instagram and you will see a lot of people doing what you want to do, but for the moment, only a few key people will be guiding you.

“In Arizona, you’ll find that clothes not only have the power to change how you feel, but also to change the way others look at you (note how the same guys who make fun of you start putting on the same things a couple of months later).

Fall winter 2021 2022 collection

© Jenny Brough

“When you move to Los Angeles as a teenager, then to Oregon, then to Seattle, France (then back to Los Angeles), you will be able to summarize your story in an ‘elevator pitch’: ‘I’m Harris Reed and I love who I am’. You will have to work hard to get by, working 40 hours a week during your senior year of high school. In 2016 you will move to London to study fashion at Central Saint Martins, the institution from which they came out Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and all the designers you have admired on the pages of Vogue. Central Saint Martins will be everything you hoped for and more thanks to the people you meet – many of them will have been bullied by kids like you; transsexuals who pour their sexuality into their creations.

Backstage fashion show of the fall winter 2021 2022 collection

“You’ll arrive at college in skinny jeans, black combat boots and a greased blonde bang, and dance the night away at Queen Adelaide, VFD and Loverboy, thinking every moment ‘this is my place’. For the first time in your life, you will find representation all around you and it will be then that you will learn to eliminate the image you long ago thought a young queer should have.

“The day you meet Harry Styles with its stylist Harry Lambert, behind the scenes of the Hammersmith Apollo, you will run across London in flared trousers in silk and silver leather like wedge boots, bringing a collection of sketches full of imaginative references to Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie and Mick Jagger. Immediately, he will show you all the kindness you imagined. It will ask you not to limit your creativity. At college, you will work late into the night to finish the blouses that will be part of the costumes she will wear on tour on stages around the world, and when Harry will become the first man to appear alone on the cover of Vogue, you will see him wearing your creations on the pages of the magazine.

Fall winter 2021 2022 collection

© Jenny Brough

“In 2021, you will be tall one meter and 93. You will have long red hair and you will be lovely. But your underlying message will remain exactly the same: wear whatever dick you want, be who you are. Don’t let fluidity become another box – for one person it will mean a transparent seventies dress, for another it will be a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. “

Harris Reed

© Ho Hai Tran

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