Beautiful, fortuitous mistakes guided Central Saint Martins graduate Matthew Harding’s collection. Focusing on strong women, he took particular inspiration from Wonder Woman actress Lynda Carter. His creative approach to giving sheer jersey
Beautiful, fortuitous mistakes guided Central Saint Martins graduate Matthew Harding’s collection. Focusing on strong women, he took particular inspiration from Wonder Woman actress Lynda Carter. His creative approach to giving sheer jersey power-mesh and sheep’s wool another dimension, through use of flocked copper corrugated metal, has made him one to watch. We caught up with him after shooting our favourite piece from his collection for AnOther’s first animated fashion story, to talk about women, texture and persimmons.
What were the ideas behind your MA collection?
For A/W10, I wanted to focus on the strength of women and the balance of femininity and toughness. The collection draws roots from late 70s women, as they were sexually empowered, strong, confident, but not in a masculine way. A lot of warrior-like imagery drove the collection forward, as well as sculpture by Naum Gabo.
How would you describe your style to someone who doesn't know your work?
Controlled maximalism, with a focus on texture.
What made you decide to get into fashion? Have you always been interested in it?
I have always been excited about dressing up, the power that clothes can have on your confidence and emotions. I don't think there was ever a “decision” to get into fashion; all of a sudden that was what I was doing, what I loved and what I wanted to master.
Can you take us through your design and construction process?
Collections for me always start with a ton of research. I never really set myself a theme or a concept. Sometimes I have a faint mood or feeling, but this is impossible to put into words. Instead, in almost aimlessly researching in abundance, stories or ideas seem to form that help me to describe the feeling. Within the research there are trends and threads that sub-consciously make connections. I find that the best design is often an accident, which ends up being much better than the thing you have been working on for weeks.
Do you have anyone in mind when you are designing?
Yes, women. Sometimes a particular woman, but it's her spirit, not the actual woman, usually. For A/W10, I was obsessed with Lynda Carter. She is so confident and tough, but somehow fragile and still very sexy. You have to focus on women otherwise you end up designing for yourself.
Do you have a favourite design of yours?
I don't really like to look back, but the black dress from A/W10 is my favourite in that collection at least. I think it's underrated as it's hard to see the texture and beauty of the dress in photographs.
What is the proudest achievement in your career so far?
The response from my graduate collection – especially the comments from Suzy Menkes and, of course, Louise Wilson. Having those two women speak highly of my work was a dream come true.
Who in the industry would you most like to collaborate with?
Probably Nick Knight. I was lucky enough that he shot one of my belts on Naomi Campbell recently on SHOWstudio, but I would love to someday work together with him on a project.
Who are your favourite designers?
The late, great Alexander McQueen, Nicolas Ghèsquiere, Riccardo Tisci and, of course, Karl Lagerfeld.
What are you referencing for your next collection?
I'm not really sure what my next move is. I'm currently working on a few projects, but not to show. I'm constantly inspired by sculpture and there are some great contemporary Indian sculptors that have caught my attention recently.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Working even harder to achieve my goals.
On the website we do a segment called AnOther Loves – what's one thing you're loving right now?
Persimmons – they're the forgotten fruit! Also, old Bob Fosse routines.
Interview by Hollie Lacayo
See our animated fashion story featuring pieces from Matthew Harding's collection in Exclusives.