Searching for Paul Harnden, Fashion’s Most Reclusive Designer

About 8 yrs in the past, the actor Jeremy Solid, who plays Kendall Roy in Succession and who is acknowledged for his esoteric, romantic tastes in manner, which match the more verbose aspects of his character, discovered himself in Brighton, a seaside town on the south coast of England. Brighton is dwelling to a sizable university, a thriving array of LGBTQ venues, and the secretive shoemaker and vogue designer Paul Harnden, whose vintage-on the lookout, vaguely Dickensian pieces are manufactured by some of England’s oldest mills, in regular tweeds, or silks or sturdy Ventile. Sturdy made a decision to use the event to track Harnden down. He tried an LLC address, attempted Google Earth. He did everything he could, he explained to me, “in the hopes of acquiring 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 of an enigma, created with extreme care and artistry,” Strong reported.

To Strong, this only included to the appeal. “He is reclusive, un-self-searching for, and committed to the do the job exclusively—those values, to me, feel immanent inside the garments,” he reported of Harnden, who is known for becoming intensely particular and managed. He sells to only a handful of stores, usually no extra than one or two in every metropolis. He seldom variations his designs. He insists that his clothes is not discounted on sale, never loaned for photoshoots, under no circumstances sold on line. “He is performing a little something that is practically the correct opposite of what Walter Benjamin termed ‘Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’,” Powerful said, citing the theory that replication can undermine an object’s “aura.” He termed what Harnden does “ineffable and authentic,” noting that in “a world of increasing sound,” he is seeking to create his possess, distinct audio. “Someone who does that, in any industry, is as uncommon as a snow leopard these times and as crucial.”

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 things from him.” “He’s quite Greta Garbo,” he instructed WWD. “I can’t get keep of him. I consider he lives in England by the sea.” WWD ran a separate posting, “The Mysterious Paul Harnden,” in which Adrian Joffe, the partner of Rei Kawakubo and head of the retailer Dover Street Market, which sells Harnden’s function, explained that it was “beyond trend.” This motivated a piece in New York magazine’s the Slash, “The Mysterious Designer John Galliano Loves” in which the reporter, baffled and awed, noted “Nobody’s in fact achieved him.”

The first working day I try out to speak to Harnden is a gray Wednesday in January. That week, the Italian luxurious brand name Bottega Veneta announced a takeover of the Fantastic Wall of China, emblazoning a extend of the construction with its tangy green branding. Following months of backlash in opposition to fashion’s scale and speed—its relentless championing of the new, the opulent—and a variety of pious-seeming, head-hanging claims to rethink, post-pandemic, the industry was by now grinding again into its common rhythms. Brand names have been, the moment once again, flying journalists across the world for manner displays. Merchants have been getting shipping of new inventory, marking down what experienced arrived just a number of months just before. And community relations experts from Paris to New York had been soliciting interest for their designer shoppers. Harnden, on the other hand, did not look to want to talk.

I searched fruitlessly for a phone range, an email deal with, everything. His site has no contact specifics just a white page, with a jumble of text: ^8m*+,J1/4%?@p=~#3Kf. I punched this into Google, hoping it could be a clever clue, and found nothing at all besides a blog site publish, from 2010, by another person else complaining about how not possible it is to call Paul Harnden.