September 2 2014

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The Next Big Thing: Harbison Fall ‘14‬


Everyone knows their Marcs from their Calvins. But as fashion month kicks into gear, we’ll be spotlighting the up-and-coming designers and indie brands whose names you’ll want to remember.


Label: Harbison, by Charles Elliott Harbison

Need to know: When it comes to finding inspiration for a new collection, you won’t hear many designers reference Pocahontas and her storied love affair with John Smith. But that was the focal point of Charles Elliott Harbison’s latest outing, which he presented this weekend on the clubby eighth floor of Milk Studios. Harbison didn’t channel the beloved ‘nineties Disney cartoon, but rather the decidedly less fantastical historical story that took place in seventeenth century Virginia. (Not so fun fact: Pocahontas was actually captured by the English before falling in love with her future husband.) The centuries-old tale weaves seamlessly through the collection in the form of tiny leaf-shaped buttons, classic neutral tones, wooly fabrics, black shearling, colonial felt hats, and unfussy, menswear-inspired silhouettes. A few looks included metallic gold leather gloves with 3D leaf appliqués. A pair of navy gauchos was topped off by a trompe l’oeil men’s shirt that appeared to be worn backwards and upside down, “as if Pocahontas woke up after a night with John and put on his shirt, but didn’t really know how to wear his Western clothing,” Harbison explained.

But he also kept the modern-day Pocahontas in mind. The strong, feminine woman of now wants to look sharp, and is concerned with ease and wearability. In keeping with his trademark masculine/feminine aesthetic, Harbison revisited many of the silhouettes from his Spring collection–tailored blazers, button-down blouses, and slim trousers–but used luxurious silks and knits for maximum comfort. Palette was also important; he introduced an orange and raspberry color block for a loose-fitting suit and mid-length dress, and employed bold pops of cherry red and marigold elsewhere. Rich shades of camel and chocolate were layered on top to keep things from feeling too girly.

He says: “I don’t like when a woman looks like she got dressed and thought about everyone but herself,” Harbison told “This woman thinks about herself and being comfortable. I wanted to show a fresh, feminine interpretation of suiting, and I was able to drive home this idea of a really strong woman. These are literally menswear fabrics, but tossed on her in a soft, feminine way.”

Where to find it: Ikram in Chicago, Satine in L.A.

Photos: Courtesy Photos


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