Designer Profile: Parris Harris of Punk Mail USAA

April 3rd, 2006


Designer isn’t the only occupation on Parris Harris’ resume–fashion event organizing is also his forte. Whether he’s directing models to strut in that certain way, figuring out the budget of his next fashion show, or designing and constructing clothes, Harris is innovative and funky. Although his designs are out there, we definitely appreciate his ability to think outside the box.

Parris HarrisOmiru: How did you get started in fashion design?

Parris: Once upon a time, a being by the name of Parris Harris had a love affair with the need to express. This being searched high places like Macy’s Christmas catalog and Kmart’s Super Store and low places like the depth of his soul. I had a love affair with the need to express, especially in places that call for fabulous attire like night clubs, red carpet world premieres, and Texas horse stalls. Overalls can be hot, and if you look hot, your animals may be more responsive to you. You heard it here first, folks. Write it down.

Long story short, I needed outfits, and I first started dressing myself. Fashion or clothing is one of my paints of choice and people’s bodies are notebook pads or expensive pieces of paper to pour all the lovely paints on.

What’s interesting is that circumstances suggest what to wear. They can DOWNRIGHT dress you. Poverty, pride, mourning, death, opulence, regret, sorrow, thug life, wealth, punkness, weddings, racism, hate, conservativeness, etc. I’ve always been observant of how people respond to what others wear and how we act in what we wear. If a 27-year-old accountant went dressed in an Armani suit one day, rags the next, overalls the third, and a Vivienne Westwood couture gown on Thursday, there is a good chance she would be received differently each time based on appearance alone. At some point of my existence, that realization grabbed my attention and kept it.

O: From where do you get your inspiration?

P: From the stars and the moon and the grass that minds its own business and doesn’t bother anybody and just grows. Again, in some way, poverty, pride, mourning, death, opulence, regret, sorrow, thug life, wealth, punkness, weddings, racism, hate, and the conservative all offer inspiration. The power of fashion, the fun aspect, the silliness, the history, the emotions it instills, the actors it suggests, the silence it speaks. Fashion can protect, intimidate, and demean through appearance alone. I’m a sucker for art in unexpected places (performance art) There’s all that to inspire and then some.

O: What is your design philosophy?

P: 1. Make the outrageous understandable, functional, obtainable, and within reach.
2. Make the simple scream while silent (as it does so often) and perhaps cause you to feel that feeling we get when we wished we had looked closer.
3. To cause one to enjoy and appreciate being annoyed (Love thy dreadful neighbor).
4. Make destruction beautiful to the look and acceptable regardless.
5. To enjoy just being dressed.
6. To cause you to enjoy the ugly and never want to be beautiful again.
7. Make the average girls of the club and world, boring, poor, looney and punk, as hot and sexy as the tall, blond, blue eyed, and vice versa.
8. Club wear at the office. 
9. To make arty, magnificently animated, nonsense garments.
10. And of course all the other deliciously boring things like making a woman feel feminine or help a gentleman’s outsides match his ego.

O: Thoughts on the San Francisco design scene?

P: Hot, Hot, Hot….Japan mixed with NY and Paris. It’s unaware of its fashion potential. It has the freedom of Paris to wear what you want. It’s courageous. It has trendsetters on the DL (down low) so comfortable in their skin.

O: Who are your favorite designers?

P: Vivienne Westwood, Diesel, Cov’et, Channel, Jncos, Armani, Jimmy Choo, Alberta Ferretti, V.W., Serious, Snoop Dog Clothing, Outkast Clothing, Sean John, Moschino.

O: What trends do you foresee for Spring 2006?

P: New is the new. Pink isn’t going anywhere. Trashy glam with new cuts and lace. Hip Hop Couture. Men in hip, witty, sporty blazers with patches, torn seams, etc. Office meets baseball court in the work place. Punk Proms. Golf Couture. Men in smarter stripes that pop. Women in gowns before 5 p.m. again. The 1700’s revisited, but this time, women in gowns at the water cooler, walking to get the mail, in the mall, and at soccer practice.

O: Last words?

P: I love how clothing can be so accessible. Every day or every moment (depends on the person), we are blessed with the opportunity to change our clothes again…and create again. Is that great, or what?

Entry Filed under: Designer Profiles, Features, Women

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jackie  |  August 11th, 2006 at 5:17 pm

    i LOVE ur stile …. i have a blue mowhowk and a a girl LOL e-mail me so wee can talk

  • 2. lizzie_  |  June 25th, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    hi parris. im a fan from justin.tv

    rock star!

  • 3. lizzie_  |  June 25th, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    hi parris. im a fan from justin.tv

    rock star!

  • 4. Witchywoman  |  August 9th, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    Hi, Parris
    This is your witchy nice words you Rockstar!

  • 5. maxine  |  April 23rd, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    Hi Parris!! Just found this! You are the greatest!! Rock On=

  • 6. Danielle Johnson  |  December 19th, 2008 at 11:16 am

    Loved hanging with yout at Fashion aide LA. You’re Fierce!

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