How Harris Reed Created Demi Moore's Met Gala Look

For most designers, the annual Met Gala extravaganza is one of the biggest nights of the year — and Harris Reed is no exception.

This year, the designer best known for his gender fluid, louder-than-loud couture creations, attended the event on the arm of actress Demi Moore, who (naturally) wore one his custom designs. It's not unusual for brands spend months preparing celebrity looks especially for the evening, but Reed's creation for Moore came together a lot more quickly than that: 'We really did everything in two weeks,' he told ELLE.

Moore's gown, a show stopping number made of upcycled wallpaper, was Reed's take on the event's 2024 theme 'The Garden of Time,' a reference to JG Ballard's 1962 short story about the fleeting nature of beauty. Ahead of walking the red carpet, he gave ELLE UK the low down on dressing the actress for the 2024 gala and dished the dirt on what it's really like attending the fashion event of the year.


ELLE UK: How did interpret the Met Gala theme this year? What was your inspiration?

Harris Reed: I’m obsessed with staying on theme, [and] I always try to remain true to my brand and my ethos. A lot of people I think will take this idea of decay and delicacy, and decaying fragility, in a way that feels much more [inspired by] lace or black and white or transparent, whereas I thought a much more Harris Reed way of looking at it was to do a bold colour and silhouette, but then [focus on] what it was actually made of. For me, this idea of decay came from the fact that it was upcycled wallpaper turning into clothing so delicate that it can be worn once before almost ripping. It’s like creating a paper doll.

I was really touched by JG Ballard's short story. I wanted Demi to feel like she was almost blooming on the red carpet. It was this idea that, like the story, there was only this one split second where something is full of beauty and in full bloom. The flower itself starts decaying and withering.

How is designing a look for the Met Gala different to designing for other red carpet events?

There’s just so much research and so much thought behind the theme that it really pushes you to dive to a place that’s a lot deeper than you’d maybe normally be able to go. It also challenges you because, when it’s the Met, you are next to the best in the world. That, on top of the theme, really pushes you to go as far out of the box as physically possible.

<span class="photo-credit">Getty Images</span>
Getty Images

What’s special about your design tonight?

The fact that it’s all upcycled wallpaper. For me, that’s a really unique way of looking at this idea of decay and fragility. We’re using this fabric that is so delicate — literally paper dolls — it could rip, but it takes up so much space and it is so graphic. It adheres so honestly to the Harris Reed brand.

What is it really like to attend the Met Gala?

It feels like your birthday, the Olympics, your graduation, your wedding all in one. It's just such an overflow of emotions, you basically have 30 seconds on that carpet that really makes or breaks anything and everything. And that amount of excitement — you've never heard screams like [when] walking up the Metropolitan stairs, with the entire foreign press right there. Anything and everything could go — or go wrong. And that’s just really exciting.

<span class="photo-credit">Getty Images</span>
Getty Images

Tell me about the design and creation process of Demi’s look this year.

My amazing team in London makes everything by hand in our little atelier in 180 Strand. Besides the millinery that's done with Vivian Lake and our new milliner Verna, everything is made in house. What I love about that is the fact that we can be extremely tactile, extremely quick and extremely responsive to things that are happening.

With Demi, we found out two weeks before the Met that she wanted to go together and she wanted me to dress her. We really did everything in two weeks. It was immediately jumping on a group chat with her and Brad Goreski, her extraordinary stylist, and bouncing ideas. They fell in love with my last season [collection], which meant so much to me, so we used that as a starting point.

I would say in the first 24 hours of the text chain we had initial sketches, then seven hours later we had final designs, then a day later we had rough mock up toile, and then in three days we had a rough toile of the whole piece using real fabric and Calico. We retoiled the wings three or four times, then we got it all looking perfect, and then the final piece was made over probably about [nine or ten] days, up until literally 4am the night before being packed and shipped to New York.

If you could wear one look from the Met Gala red carpet over the years, which would you choose?

I wouldn't be able to wear both at once, but I’d want to wear what Alexander McQueen and Sarah Jessica Parker wore to the Met Gala when they were in matching Tartan. That was one of my all-time favourite looks. I have Scottish descent, I have a family tartan, and I just love the juxtaposition of this tailoring and tartan with this explosion of cream tulle from her skirt. It was really wonderful.

new york may 01 actress sarah jessica parker and designer alexander mcqueen attend the metropolitan museum of art costume institute benefit gala anglomania at the metropolitan museum of art may 1, 2006 in new york city photo by peter kramergetty images
Sarah Jessica Parker and Lee Alexander McQueen at the Met Gala in 2006.Peter Kramer - Getty Images

What makes Demi Moore a Harris Reed icon?

I’ve always tried whenever I’m doing the Met Gala to work with someone that really shares the same ethos that I do. So to have Demi, who has had such an extraordinary career and is just so strong and powerful, to represent the brand just feels like a dream come true. What makes someone a Harris Reed icon is the fact that they are a risk taker and they’re unapologetically themselves. For me Demi Moore, 2024 on the Met Gala stairs is fully encompassing that.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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