Style & Grooming

Harry Freegard Is the Graduate Designer Trolling Fashion

‘It’s about getting a message across; and my message is: LOL’, says the Central Saint Martins fashion graduate who is already causing widespread laughter with his work

“I’m actually from Wiltshire but I moved to London when I was 18 and haven’t been able to get away from it, clearly,” Harry Freegard explains with a wry inflection that is enough to cause a fit of giggles in even the most stony-faced listeners. Indeed, by the end of our conversation, I was practically wetting myself, for Freegard – also known by the Instagram moniker @harrie.bradshaw – is as funny to speak to as you might imagine from looking at his work. 

At 23 years old – a new graduate of Central Saint Martin’s BA Fashion course – Freegard’s dark sartorial comedy reaches beyond his years. He has already caught the attention of Vivienne Westwood, appearing on Dazed’s Summer 2018 cover, which was inspired by the subversive spirit of the legendary punk pioneer. He has also walked the runway for eccentric duo Rottingdean Bazaar at their London Fashion Week Men’s S/S18 show, dressed in a giant satin globe. Here, Freegard talks through his graduate collection; an ode to his own death via the lens of Absolutely Fabulous. 

When did you start taking an interest in fashion? 

Since forever. I’ve always been drawing since I was a kid and I did art A-Level at college and a bit of textile work – but my textiles tutors hated me. They were so livid that I got into Central Saint Martins to do the foundation course. They were raging.

Can you talk through your graduate collection? 

It was inspired by a trip to Highgate Cemetary I took in October last year. I love it there, I am completely obsessed. There were all these conkers on the ground as it was autumn and I thought about how conkers are really quite bizarre relics of childhood. So I got into looking back at other ‘totems of British heritage’. Also, I was just really jealous of all the dead people and so decided to make a collection about my funeral – it’s just about me being dead, really.

How did you set up the runway show itself? 

It was literally just people dressed up prancing about. One of my favourite pieces was a ‘garment bag ghost’ that was unzipped at the back and had a little red thong poking out. It was really chic. It was worn by a boy called Alexander – a performance artist – and he was wildly drunk before going out on the runway, broke a wine glass and then just skipped down the entire length of it. I went down the runway myself on a ‘solid gold micro scooter’. Really, it was just a micro scooter spray painted gold.

At Central Saint Martins we have two shows; the internal show and the press show. And for the internal show, I just ran out, chucked a plastic skeleton at the audience, and then ran away. But for the press show, the runway was so long and they told me I had 20 seconds to get to the end of the runway and back so I just thought: ‘better be on a scooter then!’ Really quite practical. I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy a scooter for ages anyway. The soundtrack was mixed for me by Tom Baratt from Art School. It was The Funeral March by Chopin – and then the sound of a record scratch and the sound of heels clacking – which went into a remix of The Pet Shop Boys’ Absolutely Fabulous. I would absolutely have this played at my funeral – it would be a very Patsy and Edina affair. 

How did your tutors react to your work? 

I tried my best to get away with not making any clothes. I’m not anti-making, but I just put a lot more time and attention into finding objects and using the body as a vehicle for jokes. I feel like I can execute a joke by painting a jacket I found in a charity shop – I don’t necessarily have to make that jacket – and the joke comes across. It’s about getting a message across; and my message is: ‘LOL’. My tutors were always a bit dubious about me not making anything, but there is a strong textile element in a lot of my looks and they saw the humour in it and were willing for me to push it as far as possible. There were definitely looks that didn't go down as well as others, however. Like when I put an actual black bin liner and some yellow marigolds on a model and presented it to them. 

Why do you want to be ‘LOL’? 

Everyone in fashion is far too serious and clothes are so boring right now. I understand that things need to sell, but I’m a graduate and I don’t necessarily need to sell at the moment. So I figure that I’ll just be funny and then make t-shirts later or something. I think because London is so expensive, making something as well-crafted as a vintage Dior piece just isn’t going to happen anymore. So why not put a rubber chicken on someone’s head like Edwin Mohney did for his MA show?

Who do you admire in fashion right now?

I love Rottingdean Bazaar; they are true geniuses. I’ve walked in their shows a few times and I did a shoot with them which was James and Luke at the peak of their hilarity. They found all these pictures of a tie online and they split the pictures over three Google phones and then taped them to me. So it was as though I was wearing a tie that is made out of phones. So amazing. 

How do you define yourself and your work? 

I’ve always found it very difficult to define what I do. I think I’m more into art direction and making images. During my BA I spent so much time shooting for magazines and stuff and had so much more fun doing that. That’s what I’m doing at the moment – you need a lot less storage space than making a collection. We had massive studios at Central Saint Martins, but after leaving I have no idea how people carry on! Now I’m left with the scraps of a collection, filling my room. People have offered to buy some things, but I think it’s all going to go in a vacuum bag and go into storage to be honest.