CCAD fashion designer profile: Ryun Harrison

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From the May 8, 2014 edition

The five-piece collection, titled “Lament of the Magpie,” by Ryun Harrison offers intricately crafted, high-end, ready-to-wear garments, but also a pensive contemplation.

“‘Lament of the Magpie’ is based largely on both the nesting of magpie birds and how they build their nests, and how that relates to how we as a people aren’t made of one thing. We’re made of multiple things — multiple races, religions. It [considers] the community as a whole, and humanity,” Harrison said.

Bringing together diversity is a good description of Harrison’s collection, referring to both the garments and concept behind them. “Magpie” is meant to be mostly gender neutral, using a number of styles and techniques. Harrison said it’s mostly the original textiles he’s built, but there’s also custom knit-work, paneling and more that went into the scarves, dress, tunic and jacket.

“I wanted to merge the traditional way of making prints, [with] the digital age. So a lot of the prints I made using decoupage and then scanned them and did a little finagling in Photoshop, Illustrator and things like that,” Harrison said of his textiles.

While “Magpie” is basically a five-piece collection, Harrison’s approach to creating it means there’s more; each look has a couple handmade pieces in it.

“The way I approach the design process is I sketch out individual items. Then it’s turning more into a stylist where I take those pieces and match them up, and sketch them together. I do that for hours and hours until I find that perfect match between pieces. Then I’ll make a final sketch, including a figure. That’s my jumping point for actually making the [look],” Harrison said.

This talent for keeping multiple plates, er fashions, spinning will serve Harrison well when he takes a design coordinator position at Urban Outfitters in June. Harrison interned at Urban Outfitters last summer, and created two limited-edition shirts that sold out within the first week of being available. The shirts were part of a DIY project, and given Harrison’s proclivity for the style, it’s no wonder he excelled.

“I grew up in a household that was very arts-and-craft-oriented. Being fostered in that environment really contributed to that,” Harrison said.

Harrison’s ability to blend wide-ranging arrays of styles, techniques and pieces together for a compelling look is impressive. That he’s also conveying some deeper ideas with it is rare. And even more impressive.