Like most fashion designers, Barbara Harris spent her childhood filling notebooks
with sketches of long-legged models in beautiful ballgowns, dramatic coats and
elegant pantsuits. Unlike most designers, Harris first took a few professional
Multi by Bree is "career number three," says the vivacious and charismatic designer. In the decades between her first sketches and her latest collection, Harris worked for several corporations, but her love of fashion was never far from her thoughts.
Born in a small town near Charlotte, N.C., Harris knew early on exactly what
she wanted. "My childhood drawings were of women in beautiful clothes,"
she says. Her practical-minded parents insisted she get a university education.
Harris studied sociology and psychology in college and excelled to be chosen
by General Electric to join their human resources and executive management programs.
Harris's experience in the corporate world were, days filled with meetings
and travel to far and remote places for weeks on end. Her nights, were busy
with executive dinners and corporate entertaining which gave new insight into
women and their wardrobes. Harris wanted elegant, versatile clothes that expressed
her individual sense of style but never overwhelmed her. Clothing that could
be worn from day to evening with little variation and no ironing! It was surprisingly
hard to find, which became her inspiration when creating
"I believe in the ease of dressing," says the always-elegant designer. "Selecting a stylish, well-tailored blouse, jacket, skirt or pant should not have to be a two-hour event."
Harris retired from the business world with a wealth of new insight, more determined than ever to achieve her first dream. That's why she launched her Multi by Bree for Spring 2003. And as she talks about the Bree customer, she could well be describing herself: confident and accomplished, with a strong sense of personal style, and an appreciation of fine tailoring, quality and investment. "She sets trends instead of following them," Harris adds. "She's comfortable in classic styles but can move effortlessly into edgy. Because of her confidence and upbeat nature, she seems ageless!"
An endlessly creative person, Harris is never at a loss for new ideas. "My husband enjoys telling stories about finding my sketches tucked away in drawers all over our house," she says. "It's really in my blood. The images come to me constantly, day and night. I am always in the process of transferring sketches from torn pieces of paper to my sketch book." She surrounds herself with beautiful objects as well; to relax, she collects contemporary art, blown glass, metal sculpture, ceramics, textiles and wearable art. But this seasoned businesswoman isn't thinking just about creative side of the fashion business; she's carefully mapped out her company's development, including retail distribution and even licensing opportunities.
Follow your dreams, we're often told, but it's a rare person who makes hers come true. The growing success of Multi by Bree is irrefutable evidence of Harris's talent and determination. Then again, who could resist a woman who says simply, "Fashion is my way of reflecting my joy of life.”