British-American fashion designer Harris Reed has put himself in the running for the position of fashion’s greatest showman. Kicking off London Fashion Week on Thursday night at St. John’s Chapel with his latest fluid demi-couture collection titled “60 Years A Queen,” the immersive experience raised the bar for the traditional fashion show. With an intimate gathering of about 60 attendees, the magical set by designer Lukas Palumbo, a poignant surprise performance by Sam Smith, and romantic, other-worldly designs took the presentation to the next level.
Referring to the assortment as “a collection of all my deepest hopes and dreams,” Reed transports us to his magical, sustainable, and gender fluid universe. Uniting his varying and juxtaposing influences, “60 Years A Queen” sees Reed’s unabashed, bombastic self-expression come true to form. Inspired by the Victorian era, mid-’70s Rolling Stones rocker Mick Jagger, and the club kid scene, this eclectic and transformative collection has been in the works for quite a few years now.
After discovering the 1897 book by Sir Herbert Maxwell on the reign of Queen Victoria, early in Reed’s tenure at Central Saint Martins, its historical contents would make a significant imprint on the designer’s creative DNA.
Taking the regal aesthetic and implementing a queer interpretation, dainty and delicate lace is met with outrageous silhouettes, comprising of exaggerated bell-bottoms, voluminous bows, opulent millinery with the help of Vivienne Lake, lavish masks and headdresses, and sky-high platform go-go boots created in collaboration with Roker. Velvet, feathers, sequins, and sumptuous silks unite to form a glam rock collection fit for a queen.
Staying true to his sustainable practices, Reed utilized up-cycled fabrications and 100-year-old upholstery material donated by an Italian Bussandri family. The designer discovered the family-owned company while traveling through Bassano, Italy nearby the family’s Villa Bussandri.
With the collection’s central garment mimicking that of the creation Reed designed for iconic supermodel Iman for the 2021 Met Gala, each feather has been repurposed and hand-painted in black.
Another standout piece in “60 Years A Queen” is a ceramic chest plate, made possible with the help of artist Cassie Rendle. The half-male, half-female torso has been punctured with arrows — a poetic and subversive commentary on restrictive gender norms.
Evocative of a gender-fluid renaissance, Reed’s “60 Years A Queen” marks a turning point in fashion, emphasizing the importance of theatrical expression and a passionate commitment to the craft. Describing it as “a collection I could have only ever dreamed of creating,” Reed transported everyone else to his dreamland as well.