About eight years ago, actor Jeremy Strong, who played Kendall Roy in Heir and who is known for his romantic, esoteric fashion sense, befitting the more verbose aspects of his personality, have come to Brighton, a seaside town on the south coast of England. Brighton is home to a great university, a host of thriving LGBTQ venues, and secretive fashion designer and shoemaker Paul Harnden, whose works are classic, vaguely human. Dickensian is made by some of Britain’s oldest mills, in traditional tweed, either silk or hard Ventile. Strong decided to use this opportunity to track down Harnden. He tried an LLC address, tried Google Earth. He did all he could, he told me, “in hopes of getting a desirable pair of PH boots, but in vain.” Harnden was not discoverable. “The trail is cold. Strong said.
For Strong, this only added to the appeal. “He was reclusive, disinterested, and focused on his work — those values, to me, seem to exist inside the garments,” he said of Harnden, who is known for his work. special and in control. He only sold to a handful of stores, usually no more than one or two in each city. He rarely changes his form. He insists his clothes are not discounted, never loaned to take pictures, never sold online. “He was doing something that was almost the exact opposite of what Walter Benjamin calls ‘Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,’” says Strong, citing the theory that copying can undermine “aura” of an object. He calls what Harnden does “impossible and real,” noting that in “an increasingly noisy world” he’s trying to make his own clear sound. “Those who did, in any field, were as rare as a snow leopard these days and very important.”
Harnden’s costume was also worn by Brad Pitt. By Daniel Day-Lewis. By John Galliano, who once stated, in 2010, “buys all my stuff from him”. “He is very Greta Garbo,” he said WWD. “I couldn’t keep him. I believe he lives in England near the sea”. WWD published a separate article, “The Mysterious Paul Harnden,” in which Adrian Joffe, wife of Rei Kawakubo and head of retailer Dover Street Market, which sells Harnden’s work, says it is “beyond the times Page”. This inspired a part in New York magazine The Cut, “Mysterious Designer John Galliano Loves,” in which the reporter, confused and appalled, noted “No one really meet he.”
The first day I tried to contact Harnden was a gray Wednesday in January. That week, Italian luxury brand Bottega Veneta announced its takeover of the Great Wall of China, adorning a section of the structure with its green branding. After months of backlash against fashion’s scale and speed – its relentless championing of the new, the luxurious – and its many seemingly pious, incredible promises to think about. Again, after the pandemic, the industry has begun to return to a normal rhythm. Once again, brands send reporters around the world for fashion shows. Stores are getting new stock, marking things that arrived just weeks before. And public relations professionals from Paris to New York are attracting attention for their designer clients. On the other hand, Harnden didn’t seem to want to talk.
I searched to no avail for a phone number, an email address, anything. His website has no contact details; just a blank page, with a bunch of text: ^8m*+, J1/4%? @p = ~# 3Kf. I googled this, hoping it might be a smart clue, and found nothing but a blog post, from 2010, by someone else complaining about not being able to contact Paul Harden.