Searching for Paul Harnden, Fashion’s Most Reclusive Designer

Gerard Ortiz

About 8 a long time in the past, the actor Jeremy Solid, who plays Kendall Roy in Succession and who is identified for his esoteric, passionate tastes in vogue, which match the additional verbose features of his character, observed himself in Brighton, a seaside city on the south coastline of England. Brighton is house to a sizable college, a thriving array of LGBTQ venues, and the secretive shoemaker and style designer Paul Harnden, whose classic-hunting, vaguely Dickensian parts are manufactured by some of England’s oldest mills, in regular tweeds, or silks or sturdy Ventile. Strong made the decision to use the event to track Harnden down. He tried an LLC tackle, tried out Google Earth. He did almost everything he could, he instructed me, “in the hopes of obtaining a pair of coveted P.H. boots, but to no avail.” Harnden was undiscoverable. “The path went chilly. A riddle wrapped in a secret inside an enigma, manufactured with severe care and artistry,” Powerful said.

To Potent, this only included to the appeal. “He is reclusive, un-self-looking for, and committed to the get the job done exclusively—those values, to me, appear to be immanent in just the clothes,” he said of Harnden, who is recognised for getting intensely certain and managed. He sells to only a handful of shops, typically no more than just one or two in each individual town. He hardly ever changes his shapes. He insists that his garments is not discounted on sale, in no way loaned for photoshoots, never ever offered on the internet. “He is performing something that is nearly the actual opposite of what Walter Benjamin termed ‘Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’,” Strong mentioned, citing the theory that replication can undermine an object’s “aura.” He known as what Harnden does “ineffable and actual,” noting that in “a globe of growing noise,” he is trying to create his very own, clear seem. “Someone who does that, in any field, is as scarce as a snow leopard these days and as vital.”

Harnden’s dresses are also worn by Brad Pitt. By Daniel Day-Lewis. By John Galliano, who once claimed, in 2010, to “buy all my stuff from him.” “He’s extremely Greta Garbo,” he instructed WWD. “I just can’t get maintain of him. I feel he lives in England by the sea.” WWD ran a different report, “The Mysterious Paul Harnden,” in which Adrian Joffe, the spouse of Rei Kawakubo and head of the retailer Dover Street Sector, which sells Harnden’s function, claimed that it was “beyond style.” This influenced a piece in New York magazine’s the Slice, “The Mysterious Designer John Galliano Loves” in which the reporter, baffled and awed, observed “Nobody’s in fact satisfied him.”

The 1st day I try out to speak to Harnden is a gray Wednesday in January. That week, the Italian luxurious brand Bottega Veneta declared a takeover of the Wonderful Wall of China, emblazoning a extend of the composition with its tangy environmentally friendly branding. Just after months of backlash in opposition to fashion’s scale and speed—its relentless championing of the new, the opulent—and many pious-seeming, head-hanging guarantees to rethink, submit-pandemic, the market was presently grinding again into its regular rhythms. Manufacturers were, at the time once more, flying journalists throughout the globe for trend shows. Shops were taking supply of new stock, marking down what had arrived just a several weeks prior to. And community relations experts from Paris to New York were soliciting consideration for their designer consumers. Harnden, on the other hand, did not seem to be to want to talk.

I searched fruitlessly for a cell phone number, an email address, something. His web site has no contact aspects just a white page, with a jumble of textual content: ^8m*+,J1/4%[email protected]=~#3Kf. I punched this into Google, hoping it could be a clever clue, and found almost nothing apart from a website put up, from 2010, by somebody else complaining about how unachievable it is to call Paul Harnden.

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