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Harris Reed Candles
Photography Laura Allard-Fleischl at The Standard London

Harris Reed talks the ‘smelly, immersive experience’ of new candle line


TextAlex Peters

Escape into the designer's world of fluid opulence

Fragrance and scent have the ability to transport you in a way few other things do. Evoking nostalgia of the sweetest kind, they can take you back to certain moments of your life or to places, real and imagined, universes that you’ve dreamt up, opening up a world of infinite possibilities. With their new range of candles, Harris Reed is hoping to take you down the rabbit hole into their world of fluid, flamboyant opulence. 

Earlier this year, the young designer showed their CSM graduate collection, Thriving In Our Outrage. Presented entirely digitally thanks to the pandemic, the collection was the culmination of five years of their ethereal, gender-defying, high camp designs and paid tribute to the principles that guide Reed’s work: opulence, performance, and nonconformity.

Then Reed graduated into a world that looks nothing like what anyone could have expected and they had to contend with the question of how to move forward and share their creations within this new context. The answer, they decided, was collaboration, expansion, and candles. It’s a natural next step when you have a perfumer for a mother and a lifelong love for fragrance.

“My whole life I've grown up around fragrance,” they say. “As someone who was bullied as a kid and lived in so many different places, fragrance was my own kind of escapism. It transported me to another place.” For Reed, candles were the perfect solution to the problem of how to share the spirit and experience of their collection with everyone, during a time when we are all stuck at home. “I really wanted to have this smelly, immersive experience into the fluid fantasy, the opulent world I want to create,” they laugh. 

Created in collaboration with their mother Lynette, who Reed calls a guiding light and a great co-pilot, and named for their final collection, the Thriving In Our Outrage candle range is a natural extension of the fluid, flamboyant style of their sartorial offerings. Available in two scents, Patchouli Fever and Charred Rose, the candles pay tribute to Reed’s parents and the memories they cherish from a childhood spent moving around the world. 

“When I was a kid, my father always wore this one gorgeous patchouli fragrance my mom made him and I remember anywhere we went everyone always asked what he was wearing,” says Reed. The scent now evokes for them a heady mixture of home, warmth, and happiness alongside the more mature association of the fluid sexuality of the 70s that patchouli conjures up for them. A bohemian romance. A Parisian opium cafe. Mick Jagger in Performance

The rose, meanwhile, is all their mother. “She always wore rose since I was a baby and growing up she would plant rose bushes out the window. We lived in California a lot when I was younger and it would waft through with the sea breeze,” Reed says. Taking rose as the starting point, the pair then decided on the charred element as well as a deep Frankincense to bring the scent a more youthful, London feel. The two would send oils, candle samples, and fragrances back and forth between London and Italy where Lynette was based during lockdown, sharing ideas and experimenting until they found something they loved. “It was this really beautiful thing,” Reed says. “It was very fluid, the process of it coming together.”  

When it came to the design of the packaging, Reed once again hit up Lukas Palumbo who designed all the artwork and sets for Reed’s graduate collection. The two recreated those original designs, adding in the Thriving In Our Outrage banner and creating a crest with a dual-gendered butterfly. “To me, the butterfly really is this beautiful, ambiguous, fluid butterfly that represents how all of us have a spectrum of sexuality, sensuality and individuality that we can express,” they explain. 

Ultimately, the candles, Reed says, are the perfect extension of the spirit and ethos of their brand especially in their capacity to open doors into fantasy lands and imagined realms. “We live in London, so most of us live in small spaces, work in small spaces. When you put a candle on and close your eyes, you feel like you’re in the south of France with the windows open with lavender blowing. Or with amber burning in the fireplace. Candles are escapism and my brand stands for fluid opulent escapism, so for me the two went beautifully hand in hand.”

And as they say, “Why can't I introduce a bit of fluid fantasy into everyone’s daily lives?”

The candles launch today and retail at £60 exclusively from www.harrisreed.com

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