Searching for Paul Harnden, Fashion’s Most Reclusive Designer

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About eight several years in the past, the actor Jeremy Solid, who performs Kendall Roy in Succession and who is recognised for his esoteric, intimate tastes in vogue, which match the a lot more verbose elements of his character, discovered himself in Brighton, a seaside city on the south coastline of England. Brighton is residence to a sizable university, a thriving array of LGBTQ venues, and the secretive shoemaker and fashion designer Paul Harnden, whose vintage-seeking, vaguely Dickensian items are built by some of England’s oldest mills, in standard tweeds, or silks or durable Ventile. Sturdy determined to use the celebration to monitor Harnden down. He tried an LLC tackle, attempted Google Earth. He did almost everything he could, he told me, “in the hopes of having a pair of coveted P.H. boots, but to no avail.” Harnden was undiscoverable. “The path went chilly. A riddle wrapped in a mystery within an enigma, designed with extraordinary treatment and artistry,” Sturdy said.

To Potent, this only included to the attraction. “He is reclusive, un-self-searching for, and fully commited to the get the job done exclusively—those values, to me, look immanent in just the garments,” he said of Harnden, who is identified for staying intensely distinct and managed. He sells to only a handful of shops, generally no a lot more than one particular or two in every single metropolis. He seldom improvements his styles. He insists that his garments is not discounted on sale, never ever loaned for photoshoots, hardly ever marketed on the web. “He is carrying out some thing that is pretty much the exact opposite of what Walter Benjamin termed ‘Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’,” Robust said, citing the principle that replication can undermine an object’s “aura.” He named what Harnden does “ineffable and real,” noting that in “a world of expanding sounds,” he is making an attempt to generate his own, apparent sound. “Someone who does that, in any area, is as scarce as a snow leopard these days and as crucial.”

Harnden’s outfits 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 extremely Greta Garbo,” he informed WWD. “I can not get maintain of him. I feel he life in England by the sea.” WWD ran a separate article, “The Mysterious Paul Harnden,” in which Adrian Joffe, the partner of Rei Kawakubo and head of the retailer Dover Avenue Marketplace, which sells Harnden’s function, said that it was “beyond fashion.” This inspired a piece in New York magazine’s the Cut, “The Mysterious Designer John Galliano Loves” in which the reporter, baffled and awed, observed “Nobody’s really met him.”

The initial day I check out to get hold of Harnden is a grey Wednesday in January. That week, the Italian luxury brand name Bottega Veneta introduced a takeover of the Good Wall of China, emblazoning a extend of the construction with its tangy eco-friendly branding. Right after months of backlash towards fashion’s scale and speed—its relentless championing of the new, the opulent—and numerous pious-seeming, head-hanging promises to rethink, article-pandemic, the business was presently grinding back again into its typical rhythms. Makes were, after once more, flying journalists across the world for style exhibits. Outlets have been taking shipping of new stock, marking down what experienced arrived just a number of weeks in advance of. And community relations professionals from Paris to New York were soliciting focus for their designer shoppers. Harnden, on the other hand, did not appear to be to want to discuss.

I searched fruitlessly for a cell phone amount, an electronic mail handle, nearly anything. His web-site has no call details just a white web site, with a jumble of text: ^8m*+,J1/4%[email protected]=~#3Kf. I punched this into Google, hoping it could be a intelligent clue, and uncovered practically nothing other than a weblog submit, from 2010, by another person else complaining about how difficult it is to get in touch with Paul Harnden.

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