Indian-born, London-based designer Harikrishnan Keezhathil Surendran Pillai – better known as HARRI – is taking over Halloween this October. The NEWGEN designer made his runway debut at London Fashion Week last month, pushing the boundaries of inflatable latex through extravagant performance art. He has made a name for himself with billowing balloon-like collections, which Sam Smith notably wore for the 2023 BRIT AWARDS.
HARRI’s sculptural artistry is joining New Orleans’ whisky label Southern Comfort for a freshly-distilled costume collaboration. The duo embrace the spooky season with three swollen outfits that will make you the life of the party, creating ultra-modern interpretations of the “Villain Vampire,” “Golden Pumpkin,” and “Red Witch.” According to Southern Comfort, “76% of partygoers regret their past Halloween looks,” — ensuring that 2023 is forever admired.
The “Villain Vampire” brings blood-sucking creatures back to life through vegan latex suiting with theatrical shoulders. Pointed shirting completes the look with a pocketed necktie to hold your miniature Southern Comfort bottle. The “Golden Pumpkin” turns you into Cinderella’s carriage with a bulbous skirt and widened coat in metallic latex.
HARRI and Southern Comfort complete their Halloween collection with a “Red Witch” costume, commonly presented with a two-toned corset, curved broom, and structured hat. HARRI’s eerie interpretation is bold and unafraid, featuring an angular blazer, swollen skirt, and sharpened headgear wrapped in wine-hued latex. Magic professionals stimulate the “Red Witch,” luring you into fantastical lands.
Ahead of the jaw-dropping collaboration, Hypebeast sat down with HARRI to discuss how the collaboration came to life, his spooky selection process, and more.
Hypebeast: Tell us about your journey into the UK fashion industry.
HARRI: I am an Indian-born British designer based in London. My fashion journey began in 2020 when I graduated from the Menswear MA program at London College of Fashion with my collection, “Let’s Put Him in a Vase.” Fortunately, my collection created a buzz in the fashion industry, after which I received the BFC NEWGEN award for 2022/23. This award encouraged and validated my work and helped me to showcase my debut collection at London Fashion Week.
How did your recent debut at London Fashion Week expand your design language in new and creative ways?
I just showcased my third season at London Fashion Week. It’s been a wild learning experience. Each season is a chance to build on the last. My designs always draw from the human form and anatomy, and it is about creating new norms of perception. This time, I honed my design language, aiming for a more defined aesthetic signature. This new collection was about striking a balance between my artistic expression and commercial accessibility.
What was the process behind designing Sam Smith’s BRITS look and how did you collaborate on it?
Sam Smith’s stylist, Ben Reardon, reached out to us a couple of weeks before the BRIT AWARDS in Feburary. During that time, in the media, there were a lot of discussions on body image and gender politics, especially around Sam Smith. Ben requested a bold, over-the-top, gender-bending, and body-embracing outfit for Sam’s red carpet look. It was a race against time, but we pulled it off in just four to five days. It was one of the most satisfying moments of my life to see my creation on the red carpet worn by one of the biggest pop stars in the world.
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How do you typically manipulate latex in your designs?
Latex is one of the most versatile fabrics I have ever worked with. It lets me sculpt shapes that would be impossible with other materials. It also takes a lot of patience to work with this fabric. It is quite therapeutic to work with latex as every piece is hand-cut, stuck by hand, and not stitched at all. For me, this fabric is a playground to manipulate the volume of clothing. My work revolves around volume, exaggeration, and perception, and latex allows me to play with them easily.
Walk me through your collaboration with Southern Comfort and how this came about.
Southern Comfort approached me with an amazing Halloween project and challenged us to reimagine classic Halloween costumes into something completely over the top. Our brands have a lot in common and celebrate being bold and unapologetic, so we knew we could create something really fun together.
They gave me the creative freedom to bring my own vision to life, and we‘ve gone on to create three incredible costumes: “Red Witch,” “Villain Vampire,” and “Golden Pumpkin.” Each takes inspiration from its traditional and historical origins but gives them a makeover to push tradition and make a statement.1 of 6
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How did you select the theme behind the three costumes?
Southern Comfort did some consumer research into peoples’ Halloween habits and their favorite costumes – these were three of the top 10 most popular costumes. The research also found that three-quarters of people regretted past costumes because they were too boring or generic, so we were set the challenge of reinventing three popular versions to make them totally outrageous and unmissable.
How do the costumes pay tribute to the original characters while inserting your own unique touch?
Each design has honored features from the beloved characters – the Vampire’s cape, the round shape of the pumpkin, and the witch’s pointed hat – but we’ve reimagined them in the HARRI style with exaggerated silhouettes, inflation, and 100% vegan latex materials.1 of 3
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My inspiration always comes from the body and anatomy, pushing boundaries of perception, which you’ll see pull through in these costumes across the vampire’s inflated shoulders, the witch’s exaggerated hips, and the spherical shape of the pumpkin.
For these designs, we also kept the wearer front of mind, as the costumes will be available for the public to rent this Halloween. So they can take the party with them wherever the night takes them, we included a bespoke Southern Comfort 5cl bottle holder into every costume: in the Vampire’s tie, the Witch’s necklace, and on the Pumpkin’s waistband.
HARRI and Southern Comfort’s Halloween Collection will be available to hire on a first-come, first-served basis at Costume Boutique in London.
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