text Friederike Steinert photography bella howard styling Elizabeth Fraser-Bell matthew harding
Asked to sum up his MA collection, former psychology student Harding says that it is “sculptural and textural and very strong, but
Strong, sculptural designs are offset by sheepskin and a fondnes for the 70s still feminine and beautiful”. The monochrome outfits with heavily constructed sleeves and Obi-belt-meets-Victoriancorsage elements show that his six-and-a-half year education at Central Saint Martins has stood him in good stead.
But Harding wouldn’t be the sartorial whiz kid he is today if his fashion alphabet stopped at A-forArchitectural. Instead, he sets the painstaking tailoring and fluent fabrics of near-
translucent trousers against heavy sheepskin. Taking these different styles and fabrics into account, it seems almost unnecessary to point out what is most important to him: bringing the unexpected to the catwalk.
“You have that really chic or glamorous aspect to your work, but then you try to set it off in an odd way… Because otherwise things become a bit too bland,” he says. But quirky designs come and go. Harding seems first and foremost an advocate of the sensuality of the 70s. “A lot of designers have been looking to the 60s and 80s recently. They’re quite masculine eras; they are very strong, quite hard. The 70s had this great balance of strong women like Lynda Carter… but also women who were quite sensual and beautiful.”
And considering that he has mastered the task of blending that 70s vibe with fashion in a way that doesn’t make you look as if you live in the countryside, it is even more of a shame that he isn’t thinking about starting his own label.
Still, he is far from unambitious; his 15-year plan is to become a creative director of one of the big Parisian fashion houses. “It sounds unrealistic, but at the same time, someone’s got to do the job – why can’t it be me?”
After seeing this collection – his degree collection, that is – it is hard to find a good reason not to wish him the big-scale success he is striving for. The world needs a talented new designer so much more than another shrink.
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