Paul Harnden: All About the Most Mysterious Designer

A few years ago, just before the epidemic, Song visited a house Paul Harden in Brighton. He told me that he is not a rich man, but that he lives well: “He has an apple farm. He picks apples and makes cider. On the other side of his house, he has space for his collections.” I asked him if he considered him a relative or even a friend: ‘A little.’ He said, ‘But I won’t know who he is, and I don’t want to know.’

Deep in the internet I saw a mention of someone who might know Paul Harden: Australian shoe maker, Andrew MacDonald, runs his own shoe brand out of Sydney. He told me on the phone in 1988 that he had met the Canadian designer. MacDonald was skiing in London’s Southbank and saw an interesting character: “I thought this guy looked like a cross between Fagin and Steptoe and his son‘, referring, respectively, to a character Oliver Twist A British comedy about a poor father and son couple running a rag and bone business. “We got to talking. We smoke a joint. We became friends. He made me a pair of shoes.” MacDonald was then working as a photographer, but he became a shoemaker and ended up working with him Paul Harden For a few months in Scotland in the late 1990s, he and his family lived with him and his family in a small rural town in the interior of Aberdeen. During the day they make shoes, and at night they play games or cycle to the pub for whiskey. They kept in touch for a long time, but hadn’t spoken in about five years: “He never spoke on the phone,” MacDonald says, “The only time I get to see him is when I go to the UK.”

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I asked MacDonald what he thought of the mystery Paul Harden “It’s very strategic,” he laughed. “His father ran an advertising agency, so he had a keen sense of how to advertise his own image.”

Photographer Stuart Pitkin who worked with him Paul Harden He has said something similar on photo shoots and films since 1987: “In most fashion houses, the focus is usually on presenting clothes in an agreeable way. Paul was more interested in creating a beautiful mystery,” he said, noting “the glamor… the sheen of the fabric, the emerging details.” From the shadows.” Pitkin was nervous about revealing more: “We have a history of sharp periods interspersed with short distance,” he said.

I told MacDonald I was still waiting to talk to him Paul Harden Direct: “Get an interview with Paul? He’d never interview anyone,” describing the principle as “very smart” and part of Paul’s picture.

I decided to write a letter to Paul Harden, to find out his address through a lengthy search in public financial records. I chose the materials carefully – heavy white paper with card edges – and explained that I just wanted to ask her a few things. Walking to the post office in the rain, I began to feel a vague sense of resentment. who is this guy? Should talking about shoes be difficult? It seemed to me that everything was pretentious and difficult. On the way back, I started thinking about doing the same thing as Jeremy Strong, and taking a train to Brighton to find him Paul Harden Personally, before I remember showing up at her door would be an invasion of privacy, that Brighton is a city of about 300,000 people, the idea of ​​meeting someone I barely recognize in the pub or on the street was crazy. I didn’t understand that I’ve now got Emmy Award winning actor Jeremy Strong to talk to me Paul HardenBut I could not convince the designer himself to tell me about himself. My view has changed: whether its compromising mystery is an honest pursuit of privacy or a ploy based on intrigue, Paul Harden is a genius.

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