Searching for Paul Harnden, Fashion’s Most Reclusive Designer

About 8 several years in the past, the actor Jeremy Sturdy, who plays Kendall Roy in Succession and who is acknowledged for his esoteric, passionate tastes in manner, which match the much more verbose elements of his character, observed himself in Brighton, a seaside city on the south coastline of England. Brighton is house to a sizable university, a flourishing array of LGBTQ venues, and the secretive shoemaker and style designer Paul Harnden, whose vintage-hunting, vaguely Dickensian pieces are built by some of England’s oldest mills, in regular tweeds, or silks or sturdy Ventile. Powerful resolved to use the situation to track Harnden down. He tried out an LLC address, tried using Google Earth. He did all the things he could, he informed me, “in the hopes of receiving a pair of coveted P.H. boots, but to no avail.” Harnden was undiscoverable. “The trail went chilly. A riddle wrapped in a thriller inside an enigma, produced with intense care and artistry,” Sturdy said.

To Robust, this only additional to the attraction. “He is reclusive, un-self-in search of, and committed to the perform exclusively—those values, to me, feel immanent within the garments,” he said of Harnden, who is regarded for remaining intensely unique and controlled. He sells to only a handful of outlets, generally no additional than a person or two in every single town. He hardly ever modifications his designs. He insists that his clothing is not discounted on sale, never loaned for photoshoots, hardly ever marketed on the internet. “He is doing anything that is nearly the correct opposite of what Walter Benjamin termed ‘Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’,” Strong said, citing the principle that replication can undermine an object’s “aura.” He named what Harnden does “ineffable and real,” noting that in “a globe of rising sounds,” he is hoping to build his individual, very clear audio. “Someone who does that, in any area, is as uncommon as a snow leopard these days and as crucial.”

Harnden’s dresses are also worn by Brad Pitt. By Daniel Working day-Lewis. By John Galliano, who at the time claimed, in 2010, to “buy all my stuff from him.” “He’s quite Greta Garbo,” he advised WWD. “I cannot get maintain of him. I believe he lives in England by the sea.” WWD ran a different post, “The Mysterious Paul Harnden,” in which Adrian Joffe, the husband or wife of Rei Kawakubo and head of the retailer Dover Road Current market, which sells Harnden’s perform, mentioned that it was “beyond vogue.” This encouraged a piece in New York magazine’s the Lower, “The Mysterious Designer John Galliano Loves” in which the reporter, baffled and awed, mentioned “Nobody’s really met him.”

The initially day I try to get in touch with Harnden is a gray Wednesday in January. That 7 days, the Italian luxury brand Bottega Veneta announced a takeover of the Fantastic Wall of China, emblazoning a stretch of the structure with its tangy inexperienced branding. Right after 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 promises to rethink, put up-pandemic, the business was by now grinding back again into its standard rhythms. Brands ended up, after once more, flying journalists throughout the world for vogue shows. Merchants were having supply of new stock, marking down what had arrived just a handful of weeks before. And public relations specialists from Paris to New York have been soliciting awareness for their designer customers. Harnden, on the other hand, did not seem to want to chat.

I searched fruitlessly for a cellphone range, an email address, nearly anything. His web page has no speak to information just a white site, 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 discovered nothing at all except a site article, from 2010, by a person else complaining about how unachievable it is to speak to Paul Harnden.