harrie bradshaw is the upstart ushering in rebellion in the art world
Renegade and self-styled ‘fashion scrounger’ Harry Freegard talks to i-D about breaking new ground and tearing down boundaries within the industry.
To celebrate the launch of Maison Margiela’s Mutiny fragrance, we’re spotlighting the voices and talents of bold iconoclasts. Through their creative endeavours and by speaking out on the issues that matter to them, this group are challenging archaic norms and exploring diverse concepts of identity.
2018’s London fashion debutante; the most fawned over It Girl in the city; “Harrie Bradshaw” to his 8,000 Instagram followers. These are just some of the labels you might give Harry Freegard, the artist and Central Saint Martins graduate who, six months after he caused an uproar by scootering down the runway at the legendary fashion school’s press show, is still recounting the story of how he raucously rebelled against one of the most respected establishments in the world.
He sits in the window of a Dalston coffee shop now, surrounded by coloured pencil sharpenings and doodling in a sketchbook. A crimson red purse is perched on the table: the perfect accompaniment to his gorgeous black slip dress, shocking-pink eye-make-up that’s strewn from his temples to the tips of his hair, and the soft shawl wrapped around his shoulders.
By now, even leaving the house in full regalia is a modest mutiny for Harry Freegard. Here, he talks us through his artistic teenhood, the beauty of proving people wrong, and why rejecting the briefs people set him is what he does best.
Harry Freegard, what’s your job title?
It’s so ambiguous. Freelance fashion professional? Scrounger floating about Dalston? I don’t know if there’s a job title out there for me! I don’t fucking know! I think technically, I’m some sort of director. Styling, photography, creative direction of imagery... It’s so wanky to put into words.
You grew up in Wiltshire, right?
Yes! I feel like when you’re growing up somewhere like that, you look at all these amazing people doing all these amazing things and you tell yourself: ‘Oh, I’m just going to go and do that!’ Then [when you get there], you realise it’s kind of difficult. High school was nothing notable for me, the same old shit. Fairly academic, but that went out of the window. Now all I do is scribble.
I can imagine you might’ve been academically “bad” at art in school.
Yeah, my teachers liked me but I’d never pass stuff, because my work never fitted the criteria. I didn’t do a graphite pencil replica of a Picasso, so unfortunately, I didn’t make the cut. There were too many boxes to tick -– she doesn’t do that.
Now, does the approval of so many legends still mean a lot to you, someone who's put up the middle finger to the establishment in such a brilliant way?
I’ve never sought anybody’s approval, really, so I’m not bothered. It is quite ‘LOL’ though, I like it. I feel like it’s a quantifiable thing for my mum to see. “Maybe he’s not making any money,” she says, “but I’ve heard of that famous person he dressed!”I mean, it’s a nice side treat – the stocking to a Christmas present. I don’t need it, but everything else about fashion can be so horrible. It’s just nice to do fun, gorgeous things sometimes.
Did you ever think you'd have the opportunity to bend the structures of an institution to your will?
I was just doing what I did at CSM. In my foundation year, I felt like they loved what I was doing, though. It was like ‘Oh shit, I just rubbed some plasticine on a brick and for some reason this old woman likes it.’ They were sick of everyone else coming in and trying to pattern cut like Alexander McQueen. Finally something novel. “You won’t make any money though,” that’s what they told me.
I don’t know if I necessarily bent it to my will. Maybe I’m just lazy? Maybe I just had to bend it to my will so I could get away with doing the bare minimum.
You mention this desire people have to follow in others’ footsteps. Do you think it’s possible to break new ground in fashion nowadays?
I think you can, but you need lots of money to break new ground on a bigger stage. There are loads of people doing it, but nobody’s ever going to see it because they need a job, unfortunately. A million of my friends have just graduated that are more talented than me, but can’t buy fabric to make anything new because they need to go and get a bar job instead. Design work just doesn’t exist like it used to.
What does mutiny mean to you, in the context of your work?
I go off on a tangent and completely rebel against what I’ve been told to do. When they told me to make a collection at CSM, I said to myself: “I’ll show you a collection. It’s going to be horrible and there won’t be any clothes!” That’s my mutiny: never doing what I’m fucking told – and succeeding! It’s such a joy when they love it.
So what does an art world void of rebellion (like yours) look like?
Those really commercial galleries in central London with flat things on the walls – boring! But you can eye-roll at rebellion a lot of the time too. At least that part is entertaining!