Located within the BFC’s Discovery Lab, Wesley Harriott’s ‘cult’ of models are poised on plinths against a black wall, being seductively halo’d by the angled spotlights. Dramatic shadows are formed and help to highlight the intricate detailing on each piece of his collection ‘Sixth Rank’.
Using only monochrome hues of black and white, Harriott makes a statement by reflecting how people often define one another according to their exterior before really paying attention to their complex characteristics which are not always evident at first. He focuses on drape and construction by redefining traditional tailoring techniques to add a sense of uniform to reflect the militant aura during Empress Dowager Cixi’s reign.
Wesley Harriott explains to me that he began reading about The Last Empress of China and fell in love with the strong divide on opinion on her that was only ever ‘black or white’. Despite the way people perceived her, she continued pioneering whilst unapologetically being herself. This is stressed within each ensemble as even more obscure detail and trimmings are revealed the longer they’re examined.
He has ensured that all of his pieces are multi-functional to reflect his strong view of clothing always having a purpose -“Everything has utility, everything has a reason, everything does stuff”.
Harriott enlightens me on all the secret low-downs of the collection “the big white coat at the end – when you un-belt it, it falls into two coats, its actually two different pieces zipped together. All the kilts – the sleeves come off, all the blazers have like 100 pockets”.
As I re-entered the presentation, my eyes continued to glimpse new attributes such as a decorative, 5-drawstring hem, multiple detachable sleeves, trousers with removable legs and a mac that can be transformed into a cropped jacket at one’s wish. The Wesley Harriott x ASOS capsule collection is set to launch near the end of 2019 so we can all be equipped to dress like FKA Twigs, Jorja Smith and Lady Gaga.