Who is Paul Harnden, other than a designer John Galliano wears and loves? “He’s an English boy … he’s very Greta Garbo,” Galliano told Bridget Foley in WWD yesterday. “He does that rough kind of tweed and stuff. I buy all my stuff from him. I can’t get a hold of him. I believe he lives in England by the sea.”
It’s no small thing to be unfindable these days, but Harnden, who was born in Canada, lives in England and, according to one The Cut tweeter, has been designing for 25 years and is pretty willfully obscure. His company, Paul Harnden Shoemakers Ltd., sells to a tiny, elite, culty group of stores — Dover Street Market in London, Envoy of Belfast in Ireland, If in Soho, L’Eclaireur in Paris. His aesthetic is very wrinkly, fantastically well-made clothing and handmade shoes whose aesthetic antecedents include Civil War uniforms and pre–Industrial Revolution/English country. It’s expensive ($2,500 for a pair of oxfords!). And of course, he’s big in Japan. Culty websites fetishize about his techniques (he buries shoes for a year!). The Fashion Spot has a few breathless threads about him, likewise this rather serious blog about tailoring, although nobody’s actually met him — which, in these days of overexposure, is kind of refreshing. Here are a few images to get a sense of what he does, plus a couple arty short films. Harnden himself stars in The Bomb With a Man in His Shoe.