They often say that fashion should speak to you, and I am a strong believer in the power of a collection to communicate and resonate with the onlooker. You see it often with large luxury brands, their message is mechanical, robotic almost, taking into consideration a check-list of must-haves to please the consumer, the press, and the financial department. You also hear the shaky, shy voice of a young designer, curious, anxious, unsure yet excited. To me, browsing through the collections of Lebanese designer Harith Hashim is like listening to classical music; bold at times, gentle at others. A symphony of ruffles, pleats, and darts, that meld together to create a unique sonnet, to which Harith is the maestro.
Harith Hashim’s brand HarithHand is based primarily in the UK. The collection, created in Beirut, Lebanon is sold exclusively on the designer’s website. The demi-couture collection of formal daywear and evening pieces follows the fashion calendar to a certain extent, always leaving room for private customer requirements and orders. Almost eight years in the business, Harith Hashim has created a niche brand with a cult following. The level of minimalist sophistication and femininity cannot be overstated. Harith’s vision is crystal clear, his brand identity stands unwavering in each of his collections.
If they were to ask me what the ultimate fashion luxury was I would say, a thoroughly talented designer that was more interested in his creations, and less with media and PR. Hashim’s collections have that unique quality, fashionable emancipation of sorts. Just as his fabrics flow freely, his ruffles cascade down organically so does his talent and love of design. The freedom he enjoys in his creative process is almost palpable, bestowing on his customers, in each of his pieces, a little bit of personal fairy dust. Instinctively connected to art and design from a young age, Harith has always wanted to be a fashion designer, a view not enjoyed by his family. “Wish you studied medicine,” chides his mother to this day. As a mother myself I would say it is surely protective sentiment. The fashion world can be haphazard, cruel, and uncertain, nothing a mother would want for her child.
Harith’s main strength as a designer lies in the manipulation of fabric. The interest traditionally garnered from the mixing and matching of patterns and fabrics is substituted with a playful mix of folding techniques; pleats, yokes, bows, knots, and ruffles. His latest collection, Resort 2021 aptly named ‘Midsummer Daffodils’ holds true to his aesthetic, it is however somehow bolder… With the advent of COVID, the general sentiment in every field has become, go big or go home. And Harith has gone big, in his very special way. The collection features his trademark monochromatic ID; in solid colors of creme, fuchsia, orange, and mint green. That’s about all that is solid about the primarily formal dress collection, however. Again, Harith flaunts his fabric prowess, molding and shaping yards and yards of beautiful fabric to perfect his creations. There is a deep respect for the female form in Hashim’s collections, the pieces always catering to the body’s natural silhouette, accentuating it, beautifying it. In our exclusive interview with the designer, Harith describes his style as a mix between daring and conservative. A juxtaposition that defines his woman, as both feminine and confident. It is the play on these opposites that always keeps Harith’s pieces interesting.. Our senses constantly oscillating between the contrasting elements. The introduction of Harith’s accessories line, shiny gold, and delicate pearls in exaggerated shapes and sizes furthering his unique aesthetic.
Harith’s vision of fashion goes beyond design however, to him it is an industry.. A source of income to many of the players in the field, an industry that must be protected in order to support those working within it. This is even more pertinent after the August 6th explosions that rocked the iconic city of Beirut, damaging hundreds of buildings and businesses in its wake. There isn’t a better time to support the thoroughly creative and once-bustling Lebanese fashion community than now. The integrity of Beirut has always lied in its creative power, one that must be preserved at all costs.
As I researched Harith Hashim on Google for this article, I came across a handbag design created by the then-emerging designer in 2012, for The Independent Handbag Designers Awards. The design, which earned a ‘finalist’ position was a minimalist fold-over clutch in a rich, off white, and tan leather combination accented with a camel suede lining and gold hardware almost prophesizes the designer’s trademark aesthetic going forward. A skill and vision that will tide him over time and again in the harsh fashion design climate. Harith’s talent is pure, his aesthetic is strong and bold, the foundations of a successful brand.