Meet the Keralite designer who is behind Sam Smith’s inflatable custom outfit at the Brit Awards
Image by Instagram
28-year old London based Keralite designer Harikrishnan Keezhathil Surendran Pillai, popularly known in the fashion world as Harri, has been the talk of the town after British singer Sam Smith donned an outfit designed by him at the 2023 Brit Awards.
Smith turned up at the O2 Entertainment Complex in London donning a latex outfit with a high neck, sleeves and legs which were overinflated, giving it a peculiar look.
The outfit, quickly became viral and is said to have been designed “to mock the traditional concepts of couture that flaunt the perfect shape of the body”, according to Onmanorama.
According to reports, Smith was very fond of Harri’s designs and wanted him to style him for the Brit Awards.
In an interview, the young designer said, “I have spent sleepless hours to complete the outfit. So, I am really happy that the outfit got noticed. The person who wears your designs too has value. My designs aren’t safe; instead they are risqué and complex. Interestingly, Sam’s personality too is like that. My design got noticed because Sam Smith had worn it.”
This is not the first time that Harri’s designs have grabbed the media’s attention. In 2020, just before the pandemic, he went viral when he revealed his London College of Fashion graduate collection that included the infamous inflatable latex trousers. The media dubbed the design as “balloon pants”.
Harri’s journey into the couture world wasn’t an easy one as he grew up in the countryside of Nedumon where high fashion is unheard of. His parents envisioned that he would study science and get a government job, but Harri’s plans were different.
Image by Instagram @Harri_ks
He was first drawn to fashion when he picked up a copy of the GQ magazine at a street side store. He enrolled into the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) in Bengaluru and then went on to complete his master’s in men’s wear fashion at the London College of Fashion.
He was chosen for the Newgen Recipient Scholarship by the British Fashion Council that promotes young talents in fashion. He terms this as a major milestone in his career. He then went on to debut at the London Fashion Week.
The concept of the “balloon trousers” and inflated features in his clothing was apparently a choice made out of humour. The designer revealed that the concept came from “visualising myself from my dog’s perspective and considering how he sees me”.
He decided to use latex for his designs as it would allow him to get the desired shapes and proportions needed for the outfits. Latex is also plant-based and a less-polluting alternative to leather which is better in terms of flexibility and can stretch better compared to other materials such as PVC or cow’s hide.
Harri mentioned that he is glad people have noticed his work, and that they saw a unique approach to fashion that puts focus on the creation of powerful visual images.