Harriet Selling

Tory Turk

Designer Biography

DOI: 10.5040/9781474260428-FPA114

Harriet Selling was born in 1956 in Hamburg, Germany. She studied at the Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften in Hamburg. After graduating she first went into graphic design and then soon started designing clothing for a sportswear company. She traveled to both London and Italy, where she undertook freelance work.

In 1979 she settled in Milan, where she met her husband, Michele Canepa. After stints designing swimwear for several companies, sportswear for Fiorucci, and women’s wear for Pancaldi, she decided to start her own label. In 1982 she created the Harriet Selling label and began her own company.

Selling’s ready-to-wear label is produced in Italy by Target. Her style is coquettish, sexy, and seductive, and incorporates provocative necklines and daring, see-through fabrics. A 1991 Women’s Wear Daily article summarized her style thus: “She turns out miniskirts and short suits feminine enough for a lady and youthful enough to do a few whirls on the dance floor. Selling strikes the balance by going with the single- and double-breasted jackets, short fake fur capes, and heavy crepe and silk solid-printed fabrics.”

Although she loved creating fashion, Selling eventually created a home collection, something she had always wanted to do. House Beautiful reported: “A ready supply of shimmering snippets and a waste-not, want-not attitude inspired fashion designer Harriet to take up patchwork.” Her home collection includes comforter covers, throws, quilts, and slippers. It features an array of luxurious fabrics and contrasts vibrant colors with earthy tones and prints.

Career highlights include being admitted to the highly acclaimed Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana runway shows at Milan Fashion Week, and having her collection shown in Paris in 1992.

In 1998 she moved to New York and then later to Los Angeles, where she opened a flagship store in Beverly Hills. In 2012 she founded Plateau One, an online clothing store designed for “nightly adventures.” This produces clothing and accessories intended for nights out partying and clubbing. The store also sells pets’ accessories and children’s clothes.

Harriet Selling, Spring/Summer 1993 Photograph by Niall McInerney, Fashion Photography Archive

References and Further Reading

Find in Library ““Harriet Selling”.” WWD Italy Supplement , January 1991 .

Find in Library Rank Stephanie. ““Couture Quilting”.” House Beautiful , March 1999 .

Find in Library Schiro Anne-Marie. ““Style Makers: Harriet Selling, Fashion Designer”.” The New York Times , 11 November 1990 .

Find in Library Vergani Guido , ed. Fashion Dictionary . New York : Baldini Castoldi Dalai editore, 2006.