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Matthew Harding (London, UK)

About to embark on his final year MA, CSM student Matthew Harding looks to the skies for the dazzling inspiration of comic book heroines.

Matthew Harding likes strong women. Taking his inspiration from heroines like Wonder Woman and his friend and muse model Lianna Fowler, Harding designs for powerful women. He also appreciates underlying humility- so while determination, stubborn will and chic-ness all feature highly in Harding’s imagined woman’s repertoire, she is also witty, self-deprecating and goofy. From his structured pleats to his spangled mini shorts – from Harding’s CSM graduate collection we can take all this and more – a woman whose refined elegance makes her a formidable foe, but whose down to earth charm and the way she busts the robot on the dance floor is going to make her your best friend…

Dazed Digital: How old are you?
Matthew Harding: Twenty-four.
DD: How long have you been designing?
Matthew Harding: I've always been quite crafty and artistic but I really began focusing on fashion when I started at Saint Martins 5 or so years ago .
DD: Where are you based?
Matthew Harding: East London
DD: How would you describe your own style?
Matthew Harding: Bold and sculptural.
DD: Who would you like to collaborate with?
Matthew Harding: Mert and Marcus. Their work is brilliant. I think our aesthetics would blend well together.
DD: Who do you have in mind when you design
Matthew Harding: I don't really have one particular person, I often make up characters who are usually composites of friends and women I admire. My friend Lianna Fowler, who's a model at Ford, inspires me a lot. She can be really strong and sexy one second, the most elegant girl the next and then a complete goof. She makes me laugh! That's what's attractive, sexy people who don't take themselves too seriously.  
DD: What inspires you at the moment?
Matthew Harding: Wonder Woman! I've been watching a lot of the old shows from the late 70s recently. Lynda Carter was so sexy, what girl wouldn't want to be her?
DD: Who are your favorite designers and why?
Matthew Harding: I really love what Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi are currently doing at Gianfranco Ferre, it’s a great balance between femininity and strength. I also admire what Bruno Pieters and Karl Lagerfeld are creating at the moment, the shapes and the detailing are stunning.
DD: Were you interested in fashion while growing up?
Matthew Harding: Not from a design perspective, but I've always enjoyed dressing up and playing with my own style, even if I got it wrong quite often. I think that curious association with clothing led me into design.
DD: What are the difficulties faced being a designer today?
Matthew Harding: It's hard work and you've got to be completely in love with the work or it's like living with a giant screaming child. It's a real turmoil sometimes working out what you want to do or say, but when it clicks in your head it's the best feeling.
DD: If you weren't designing, what would you be doing?
Matthew Harding: I almost did psychology as a degree, I got into Royal Holloway then changed my mind at the last minute. I really wanted to be a shrink and have a fabulous office in New York with lots of dark wood and a large desk with a gorgeous lamp on it. I would have typed all my notes on a typewriter and used an envelope stamp with wax.
DD: What are your plans for the future?
Matthew Harding: I'm just about to go into my final year on the MA at Saint Martins, so I have a hard 6 months ahead of me!  
DD: Can we buy your collection?
Matthew Harding: Not my previous work, but I recently won a bursary from River Island to help me fund my MA and am currently designing a small capsule collection for them, aimed at the higher end of the high street which will go into stores in March. It's quite a tribal collection, sort of inspired by Maggie Gyllenhall’s character in 'Secretary' as well as work by Folkert de Jong.

CREDITS for main image
Photography Saga Sigurdardottir
Styling Anna Trevelyan
Hair Hiroshi Matsushita using Bumble and Bumble
Make up Thomas de Kluyver using MAC
Models Tess @ Models 1