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MAC Harris Reed collaboration collection makeup
MAC x Harris ReedCourtesy of MAC

Harris Reed’s collaboration with MAC is fluid opulence at its finest

TextAlex Peters

The designer tells all about their new four-piece make-up collection inspired by Old World elegance and 70s nonconforming decadence

In just a few short years, designer and recent Central Saint Martins graduate Harris Reed has established a place for themselves in the industry as a high priestess presiding over a world of fluid, flamboyant decadence. 

Last May, Reed showed their CSM graduate collection, Thriving In Our Outrage, the culmination of five years of their ethereal, gender-defying, high camp designs. For the presentation, they worked closely with MAC’s director of make-up artistry Terry Barber on a beauty concept that reflected and paid tribute to the principles that guide Reed’s work: opulence, performance, and nonconformity.

The collaboration was such a success that now Reed and MAC are once again teaming up, this time on a four-piece make-up collection. A natural extension of the gender-fluid, unapologetic style of their sartorial designs, Reed’s range features a three-shade lip palette, a cream palette, a glittery eyeshadow palette, and a gold eyeliner pencil all packaged in gilded Renaissance-inspired packaging.

When creating the collection, Reed worked from the basis that it was for everyone and anyone, drawing on references ranging from Old World elegance to 70s and 80s glam rock romanticism for inspiration – times when men in make-up was just as accepted and expected as women in make-up. “This collection is all about breaking down barriers for everyone,” they explain. “I want everyone to feel comfortable using it. It’s not just for women, it’s not just for men. It’s for every single person.” 

Studio 54 proved to be a particularly rich source of inspiration, with Reed looking to archive imagery of figures like Dali, Bianca Jagger, and Mick Jagger with his “masculine feminine sex appeal” during the 70s heyday of the decadent New York nightclub. It was a time when performance, fluidity, and hedonism were at their height and Reed injected this spirit into the collection. “One of my favourite mood board images was from a Studio 54 party. It was two people completely naked, covered in gold body paint. It looks like they’re having the best time and you can’t even tell, are they male? Are they female? They’re really intertwined,” they say. “It’s this idea of zero fucks given, let’s be who we are, let’s radiate out to the world.”

Reed’s designs have always defied staid gender conventions, inviting everyone into their world with open arms. For the collection, they extended this ethos right down to the content and packaging of the products, not including brushes or lipstick tubes in the range in order to be more accessible to anyone who felt intimidated or nervous about make-up. “Everything is in a palette. It’s almost like you’re an artist and you’re putting your fingers in it and putting on your face,” they explain.

The products themselves have no rules and are designed to be used for anything. Reed encourages you to just stick your finger in the lipstick and put it on your eyes as eyeshadow, stick your finger in the eyeshadow and put it on your lips as lipstick. “Make-up is meant to be borderless. There are no boundaries, it is limitless what you can do with it.” 

It was this spirit of limitless potential for transformation that first drew Reed to make-up back as a young child playing with their mother’s lipstick and they say that sense of the power of make-up has never left them. “I came into fashion because I found it as a way to reclaim my identity and, you know, try every hat in the hat box until one felt right and felt like me,” they say. “Make-up quickly followed that journey because it really blew me away, the fact that one product you would buy at a drugstore could really transform a look so completely and entirely within seconds.” 

“Make-up is that tool that you dig inside yourself and bring something up and are able to manifest it physically onto your body to radiate out and present to the world. It’s the ultimate tool to show your own version of self-expression and who you truly are” – Harris Reed

“I had such a deep fascination with that transformative power that make-up lends itself to. Make-up is that tool that you dig inside yourself and bring something up and are able to manifest it physically onto your body to radiate out and present to the world. Make-up is the ultimate tool to show your own version of self-expression and who you truly are.”

With this make-up range, they are hoping to bring some of that transformative power, some of their fluid fantasy, into everyone’s lives in a very accessible and affordable way. “It’s very exciting to think that I can get my message and my ethos across to so many more people. Not everyone can have a Harris Reed gown, but people can have a fabulous Harris Reed lipstick.”

MAC x Harris Reed will be available on February 18. 

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