Sam Smith's blow-up suit for the Brit Awards was created by Harri

Sam Smith along with Harri

The talk of the red carpet at this year's Brit Awards was Sam Smith's blow-up latex suit. It was created by an Indian latex farmer who also happens to be a dog owner.

Harri, a fashion designer, has had a busy week.

Five days before Saturday's glittering award show, he received the call asking him to provide Smith with a red carpet outfit.

Harri tells the BBC that Smith contacted her and asked if she could make something specifically for the British people on Monday.

"There wasn't enough time, so I was a little scared.

"Because everything is made by hand, it usually takes four to five weeks. I had to give the logistics of everything a day's worth of thought.

We completed it an hour before the red carpet on Wednesday after I gave my confirmation that I could make this work.

"And since then, I've tried to catch up on my sleep. ".

His rest will not last long, though.

Harri with Sam Smith
Harri's designs were spotted by Smith in a magazine.

The following Monday, Harri, whose real name is Harikrishnan Keezhathil Surendran Pillai, will present a collection during London Fashion Week.

"The collection is still something I'm working out.  I had to hold everything for one week to do Sam's outfit. But I'm extremely glad. I am accustomed to the work schedule, he claims.

How did the singer learn about Harri, whose home village is in Kerala, India?

They discovered my writing in Perfect magazine in November, he says.

A model walks the runway at the Harri show during London Fashion Week September 2022
A model wearing a Harri design at London Fashion Week in September 2022.

In fact, Harri's inflatable couture was first revealed during an MA show at London College of Fashion in 2019.

By the following year, similar designs for his MA graduate collection were attracting attention.  He was asked to join the British Fashion Council's Newgen scheme, "to help young designers showcase until we can do it on our own".

Fast forward to awards season 2023, and Harri's design has gone viral.

While some noticed a similarity between Smith's outfit and one of David Bowie's famous ensembles, Harri says the inspiration actually came from his beloved pooch.

"The idea about creating a silhouette came from my dog.  He's a small dog - it was the thought of seeing me from his angle [on the ground looking up]. ".

The design based on his dog's-eye distorted view of enlarged legs and arms has divided opinion, but Harri says he doesn't take any criticism to heart.

Sam Smith
Sam Smith complemented their outfit with high black platforms.

"It doesn't bother me, no," he says.  "I'm used to it because my graduate collection had a similar reaction.

"I'm passionate about making something that makes people think and talk and discuss. ".

All the balloon-style designs are made from latex and Harri reveals something I'm not expecting - he has a second job as a latex farmer.

"I have a small plantation back in my home town.  Me and my dad do the latex farming.

"The raw material, we export it here and it becomes latex.  It's used for so many things. ".

A model walks the runway at the Harri show during London Fashion Week September 2022
Another Harri model at last year's London Fashion Week.

He says it took several months to master the process of creating designs from the material.

"It's a therapeutic process to go through, cutting everything and sticking everything and seeing it all take shape, the moulding. ".

How does a young boy from rural Kerala get into the fashion industry?

"The place where I come from is a very small village and you don't see clothing as a statement [there].  You just wear it for practical reasons. ".

But he says his father was into "drawing and sketching" when he was young, which exposed him to art "and visualisation".

"Kerala is known for nurses and doctors and IT.  but I wasn't good at that.  So this [fashion] was an escape. ".

Harri has not only been a latex farmer and fashion designer.

"I started practising something else while I was doing fashion," he says.  "I got into bodybuilding.  I started practising that for nearly five years.

"I competed twice and then I realised bodybuilding is something I would love to do.  but unfortunately it's not something that's sustainable.  So, I quit. ".

That was during his final year of undergraduate study in India before he moved to London to go to fashion college.

What we all really want to know is, how do you get an outfit like Smith's on?

Harri says you can either put it on and then inflate or inflate before and and then put it on.  The choice is yours.

"A lot of people have this question.  They're just like trousers.  You can move.  You can do a lot!".

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