Charles Harbison on relaunching his eponymous label

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As a creative, Harbison knew he couldn’t keep churning out ideas if his mind wasn’t in the right place. “You exploit who you are, you exploit things you love, you exploit things you experience,” he says. “You go deep to extract these ideas so that they are not only new, fresh and innovative, but also authentic. This regular self-excision has consequences. It’s a process that I love – it’s beautiful – but it’s a process where, if not handled properly, it can kill you.

Harbison moved to Los Angeles, which allowed her to strike a better work-life balance. A native of North Carolina, Harbison describes his time in New York as “a moonlight[ing] as a city dweller to great success. He continued to design during the hiatus, however. He has made bespoke clothing for clients including Ava DuVernay and worked for brands like Cult Gaia and Nicholas. In fall 2021, he created a sustainably-minded capsule collection for Banana Republic with Harlem Fashion Row, which was his first major re-entry into the industry. And now, here we are with resort 2023: a collection inspired by Ellsworth Kelly, and filled with jersey dresses, bright geometric prints, suits and drapes in equal parts (it will be available at Saks Fifth Avenue).

The word that comes to Harbison’s mind is “optimism”. This is reflected not only in the vibrant color palette, but also in Harbison’s desire to affirm people of diverse identities and body types. The size range is 0-22 and the garments are made from a range of more environmentally friendly materials including deadstock and vintage fabrics, appliqués and buttons, recycled polyester, organic cotton and Lenzing Ecovero viscose. Being in Los Angeles allows Harbison to produce the apparel and gear locally as well. Harbison also wanted to make sure to include models of diverse gender expressions and identities in the lookbook, showing that her designs could be worn by anyone. “Designing pretty things is easy for me, it’s easy for a lot of designers,” says Harbison. “For me, it’s about adding design elements, being mindful of your customers’ experience of the world inside and outside of the world you create.”

The most striking in the collection are the pieces that combine sportiness and drama. See: ruched jersey dresses, hooded going out tops, sequin wide leg pants with a sweatpants stripe down the side. For pure drama, there’s a cyan opera coat with voluminous, spherical sleeves paired with a similar bright blue maxi dress with a black and white sequined bandeau bust. It will put a smile on your face.

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