Issue 25
Charles Harbison
Get into fashion designer Charles Harbison’s frame of mind,
as he shares his journey in fashion from watching his mother get dressed to launching his own label.
Achievements written on the CV of designer Charles Harbison include his work at Jack Spade, Michael Kors, Luca Luca as well as the launch of womenswear at Billy Reid. Yet, the Parsons graduate says he felt he hit a particular point in his life where he wasn’t experiencing the quality of life that he desired and the trajectory he was on was not going to lead to that quality of life. “So, I did a reboot!” he said simply giving reason as to his decision to launch his eponymous label to try and find and “serve the HARBISON woman - and man - who sees beauty through the lens of androgyny, modernity, and luxury”.

Here Playing Fashion presents a passionate and thoughtful man, who sheds light on Fashion from his journey to his believes.
I FELL IN LOVE WITH DRESSING at a young age by way of my mother. I was so excited by the process of her getting dressed for special occasions – her transformation was inspiring, the end result a woman with greater confidence and magnetism. Trips to the mall were our special time together. An escape for the both of us: her escape into elegance and luxury and my escape, as a young queer boy, into a land where I was free to love beauty and beautiful things.

I LOVE THE PRIVILEGE we all get to be creative through our clothing every day. There is a particular opportunity to touch women who feel underrepresented by the over-feminization and infantilization that permeates womenswear. Many women love uniforms, just as men do. But the particular man who opts into HARBISON gets to benefit from the softness and freedom that is a womenswear hallmark.

A BOYFRIEND BORROWING out of his girlfriend’s closet - I love that idea! I want HARBISON to be a part of that, since culturally we are well on our way in that direction. Many women and men are dressing with less and less regard to gender and engendered clothing. It doesn’t so much mean less dresses and skirts in the collection, but more equal offerings of trousers, tunics and separates.

FASHION SUICIDE happens when clearly a person has not thought about herself, her body, or her life when getting dressed. When you are uncomfortable in what you are wearing, you have totally forgotten about yourself as the central figure in the dressing experience.

TRENDS COME AND GO and they can be fun and enjoyable, but a perfect trouser, blazer, overcoat, shirt, sweater, sheath are legacy pieces. The more perfect staples a woman has, the better. Yves St. Laurent, Bill Blass, and Geoffrey Beene are my fashion heroes.

THERE’S NEVER ENOUGH TIME so you have to remain focused on partnering with amazing individuals who can share the load and increase the likelihood of success. As much as I'd like to at times, I can't do it alone and doing it with others is exceedingly more rewarding.

I JUST WANT TO LIVE with more and more integrity – integrity in how I create, how I relate to others, how I handle business. Live justly, love mercy, walk humbly. I’d like to use HARBISON as a vehicle of expression for those ideas.

Photography by Nicholas Ong; styling by Megan Ahern; models: Roberta Narciso / The Society Management, Astrid Frokier and Dana Lopez / The Lions NY; hair by Hiro and Mari Watase; make-up by Christine Cherbonnier / Art Department; set design by Shaun Kato-Samuel; retouching by Silhouette Studio.

Special thanks to Michael Masse and Mike Abrego at Fast Ashleys Studio.
All pieces are from HARBISON Fall/Winter 2013-2014 collection.
Words by Carrie Lau