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Charles Harbison Delights in Androgynous Ethos of His Rising Star Design Company | | Observer

Sep 1, 2014 | Fashion Blog

by Wayne Northcross

After refining his craft in the design studios of Michael Kors and Jack Spade and in the art classrooms at North Carolina State University, Charles Harbison is gaining traction in fashion circles for his razor-sharp intellect and clean aesthetics. His collections, launched last year, operate like a fashion index, accessing a range of ideas across time and place, ultimately fusing those stories and rendering them in unfussy fabrics, modernist lines and strong geometry—with the occasional clawed gold glovelet thrown in. “I like to design for a woman who embraces her contradictions,” he said. In fashion and art, we often use “emerging” or “new” to describe a designer starting out. Do you think this idea limits a brand’s impact on the market and style trends?The industry is interested in the new guard of the luxury sportswear and high-end design market. On the whole, I think most editors, buyers, and the press want to watch a designer grow and succeed. Your collections are structured around specific thematic elements taken from popular music, contemporary art and cultural histories. Your first collection was an ode to Modernist architecture, Brice Marden and Patti Smith. In your collection notes for fall 2014 you list Sade, Pocahontas and Romanticism, strung together like an inspirational composition. How have you conceived your next collection? I keep a specific narrative in mind when I design. For spring I was inspired by Pannonica de Koenigswarter [a member of the Rothschild family and patron of Harlem jazz and bebop musicians in the 1950s]. Her bravado is what the Harbison woman represents for me. Erykah Badu also inspired me with her beauty and earthy eccentricity. The fabrics I have chosen recreate moods from works by Brice Marden. His color palette is also represented. Japan is another reference seen in fabrics I have chosen such as silk mikado.

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