As a 12 months like no different lastly involves an in depth, many people may discover ourselves reflecting on the grand ambitions we held in the beginning of lockdown, and whether or not or not we fulfilled them. (Looking again, how many people did truly comply with by means of on our objectives to study a brand new language or grasp the artwork of sourdough?) And for anybody feeling anxious about their lack of productiveness, it might be sensible to cease studying about Jeremy O. Harris’s 12 months now. Not solely did the actor and playwright decide up a report 12 Tony Award nominations for his breakout hit Slave Play, however he additionally discovered the time to premiere his new movie Zola at Sundance, seem in Gus van Sant’s short film sequence for Gucci, and ink an general cope with HBO which included a fund to help rising theater-makers.
Now, Harris is launching his newest enterprise, one that’s arguably his most surprising but: a brand new 20-piece, gender-neutral capsule collection launching with Canadian e-commerce web site SSENSE. The assortment is a part of a brand new initiative titled SSENSE WORKS, which supplies a platform for genre-bending creators to search out an outlet in trend. Any preliminary shock—shock partly in that he managed to search out the time—fades quick when considering again to Harris’s regular repute for turning showstopping seems to be, from the flamboyant Gucci and Thom Browne tailoring he favors on the purple carpet, to the extra relaxed items he often sports activities by the likes of Telfar and Bode.
His SSENSE assortment might encompass items that fall on the extra informal finish of Harris’s broad sartorial spectrum, however the story underpinning it is a bit more baroque. “The entire collection is a play—it’s a 15-line monologue—and if you were to get every piece of the collection, you would have the full text of the play,” Harris explains. “I got the idea from my love of the movie Phantom Thread. I love the idea of someone putting hidden messages inside of clothing, so I wanted it to be sometimes explicit, and sometimes a surprise to the wearer. In some pieces, like the sweatsuits, it’s sort of the main event, but some of the more revealing or vulnerable lines are hidden in the waistband of the skirt or the lining of the pocket, that you only discover when you put your hand inside.”
The items additionally characteristic quite a few Harris’s signature type emblems, together with graphic prints, embroidery, high-waisted trousers, and a beneficiant dose of plaid. “I rubbed every piece of fabric across my skin to make sure it was exactly how I wanted, which was something I learned from when I interviewed Rihanna about her Fenty collection,” Harris laughs. “She had told me that you know if it’s right, not because of how expensive it is, or what your own relationship to the idea of cashmere is, but because of the way it feels on your skin.” Harris additionally notes that the collaborative nature of designing a trend assortment was not as removed from his expertise working in theater as you may initially suppose. “The theater I make is not just about Jeremy O. Harris the wordsmith,” he provides. “It’s about Jeremy O. Harris and this amazing group of collaborators. How they tell the story starts with the words as the first sketch, then the actors come in, and the director and dramaturg come in, and they help bring that sketch to life, in the way that great couturiers do.”
Given SSENSE’s bold strategy to producing content material, the majority of which is overseen by Joerg Koch of the agenda-setting Berlin-based trend and artwork title 032c, the launch of SSENSE WORKS seems like a pure evolution for the corporate to develop its partnerships with the creatives who’re a part of their group. It was when Harris started discussing his cowl for SSENSE’s print journal earlier this 12 months (for which he styled himself in loads of Gucci and Bode, naturally) with managing editor Durga Chew-Bose that the dialog round SSENSE WORKS was first initiated. “We’re treating this as a bit of laboratory, and we really want to find a way to fit each collaborator that’s relevant to what they want to say,” explains Sonya Thomas, SSENSE’s Senior Director of Brand Development. “Jeremy is a great example, as it’s an interesting mix of products and visuals that round out this very complete aesthetic that reflects the ambitions of the project.”
For Harris, who speaks at size about how integral costuming is to his performs, the gathering additionally offered a chance to pay tribute to a few of his favourite writers. He remembers a critique he obtained from certainly one of his “least favorite” professors whereas on the Yale School of Drama, who instructed him his outré type meant individuals wouldn’t take him severely. “I was so puzzled by that, mainly because it was so ahistoric,” Harris remembers. “All of my favorite writers had a peacocking phase at some point in their careers, whether it’s Zora Neale Hurston at a party wearing a deep ruby hat and matching dress, or pictures of Adrienne Kennedy hanging out with the Beatles in London, or James Baldwin in a fabulous jacket, or that iconic photo of Samuel Beckett with a Gucci bag.”
“I think there’s like this constant academic rejection of how being stylish or having a relationship to fashion can also be a part of an artist’s practice of writing themselves into the world, or shaping how the world sees them, and so I think I wanted to look to writers as inspiration to talk about that,” he continues.
But most of all, as Harris explains, the venture offered a welcome—even therapeutic—supply diversion from his ordinary apply, as his beloved business of theater has undergone a tumultuous 12 months. (Harris is donating his charge for the gathering to a fund he launched in May to assist out-of-work members of the theater group.) “It’s taken me a while to fully engage with the fact that I have no idea how people are going to be experiencing my stage and screenwriting, or to wrap my brain around what that might look like next year,” says Harris. “It’s through these other projects, like working on a play that might live on someone’s clothes, that I’ve been able to think about that in a more concrete way. That’s truly exciting to me.”