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Harvey Nichols' group fashion director lifts the lid on life at the retailer since making the jump from Grazia last year.

Ahead of the former Grazia style director’s first interview since joining Harvey Nichols in September of last year, Ian Wright gets fashion director Paula Reed’s take on the her time so far at the retailer, the competition, her boss and British designers.

Paula Reed on…

…Grazia:“It was such a family place to be – we really went through thick and thin together. It was an exhilarating but tough launch. A lot of people thought I was absolutely mad going to a weekly. [At Grazia] if you can justify and present an idea and you can package it to make it look good on a weekly magazine, you can pretty much risk anything. If you made a mistake there was always another week.”

…London fashion boutiques: “They do an amazing job. Tom and Ruth Chapman [founders of London mini-chain Matches] and Mrs [Joan] Burstein [owner of London indie Browns] – I pray at the altar. The feeling I’m trying to get to with [Harvey Nichols] is the feeling I got in Joseph when [founder] Joseph Ettedgui ran it or Browns when Mrs Burstein was absolutely driving it. Those stores in London, I believe they were world leaders. When we get it right in London we really do beat the world.”

…Harvey Nichols’ own label: “[The Harvey Nichols team] has done a preliminary amount of work on it, there is a really interesting proposition on the table and there is a woman who’s been identified to lead it. But it has been deferred, probably for a year, I think mainly because she has personal stuff going on in her life. This will not be called ‘Harvey Nichols’ – it’ll be something entirely different and there are various names being circulated. It may not even be completely obvious that it’s something we’re doing.”

…chief executive Joseph Wan: “When I met him I thought, ‘what on earth does he see in me that could be useful here?’ He’s so on top of the numbers, the retail detail, the merchandising. He’s a fantastic person to learn from.”

…her way with numbers: “My father said, ‘we practically had a street party when you got your maths O-level’. My appreciation of numbers is so bad.”

…young British designers: “How I admire those people, but the ability to develop your handwriting is key. You’ve got to keep constantly moving on. You can’t keep supporting somebody because five years ago they were genius. Designers are judged on every single collection but it’s a great time to be a British retailer supporting British talent. There’s a lot of really amazing people in that generation – more power to them.”

Read the full interview in the May 4 edition.

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