MICHAEL HALPERN COLLECTIONS BY MODERN STANDARDS CAN BE DEFINED AS ‘EXTRA’, BUT HIS SPECIFIC APPROACH TO SEQUINS AND EMBROIDERY WILL MAKE YOU RETHINK MIDNIGHT GLAMOUR FOR DAYLIGHT HOURS.
There is something incredibly decadent about shimmer in daytime. While some may save all the glitter and gold for the midnight hour, designer Michael Halpern is bringing the Studio 54 energy to everyday with his bold collections.
He has only been in the business for a couple of years but in that short time he has grown a loyal fan base, and not just from the party crowd looking to relive the Seventies disco era. Even a minimalist can appreciate the intricate work and research that goes into creating wearable sequins, and we can tell you from first-hand experience that a glittering blazer can work for the office when styled with tailored trousers.
He began his career in New York after graduating with his BA from the Parsons School of Design. He then decided to embark on a journey to grow his own personal vision and was admitted to the Masters programme at Central Saint Martins in London.
His MA collection garnered a lot of attention and was featured in fashion titles across the world. He caught the fancy of Versace, and after graduation he was hired to consult on the couture collection, Atelier Versace. It was during his time at Versace that he developed his eponymous collection, Halpern, which debuted during London Fashion Week AW 2017 shows.
The Halpern brand is about unabashed glamour, reimagined embellishment and a sense of hyper femininity with a nod to classical couture. In December 2017, during the prestigious Fashion Awards, the British Fashion Council recognised Michael Halpern as the Emerging Talent in their Womenswear category.
What attitude does a Halpern woman have?
Attitude is so different for different women. This girl can wear it head to toe, or it could be a woman who wears tailoring. Halpern can almost take you out of your comfort zone, it can push you but still make you feel authentic. I like the contrast between this full on woman and a woman who is trying something new. It’s a lot about playfulness and pushing boundaries of what you normally wear.
What inspired this world of sequins?
Originally it was my mum who was this Studio 54 woman, but it wasn’t necessarily about pictures of her there, it was about hearing her friends and her talk about it. I’m sure things got exaggerated and blown out of proportion, but I think that’s the fantasy of it, you remember things with rose coloured glasses.
Tell us about the matchesfashion.com edit.
Matches has been a partner of ours since the first season and what’s really amazing is that they know their woman. Also the way their team curate helps your business have a presence that is a beautiful breath of the collection, they don’t buy into one style, they really show a designers profile in their buy. People look at our stuff and they think its overly sexy and shiny, but in reality everything is very covered, we don’t do a lot of skin showing. Mystery is a really nice thing and covering up is a lot more exciting and telling.
How has the online platform helped your business grow?
It’s something I didn’t know much about at the beginning. I’ve always been a designer rather than someone who runs a business, so what I’ve learnt about the online platform is that you can see it (the product) on the body before you buy it, and you can be a very educated customer, and that’s what really matters to a customer.
What have you noticed about the way women dress in the region?
I have a lot of Arab friends and an Arab woman, whether she lives here or abroad, is someone who really buys into that idea of mystery, that is what’s really exciting about seeing Halpern on her because you don’t know exactly how she’s going to wear it. There is a certain elegance and slowness that these women have that blends beautifully with these collections.
What can we expect from the SS19 collection?
Spring/Summer 2019 is a really exciting departure for us, playing with new shapes and new types of embroidery. It’s about lightness and breaking down walls of what people think of embroidery. They think it’s really heavy and it’s crystallised and really restricting in it’s movement, but it’s not and I think this collection is a celebration of lightness and movement.
Do you think runway shows are still relevant?
Doing intimate presentations is great as you get to meet people and talk about the collection and how they would style it, this is more important than ever. But I believe in the catwalk and having that singular moment of a vision of your team and what you’ve been working on to show it in that way is something that’s really relevant. So while it’s not relevant for everyone to have catwalk shows, for us it’s a celebration. We get to have this party in the middle of the day, it’s brightness among the times that are a bit sad and dreary.
What challenges do you face?
I’ve never been a business person so having that side of it is something that’s new for me. To be fair, it’s a very steep learning curve and we are learning quickly, so it’s exciting but it is new. It’s important for me to make a business out of something that I love doing, there’s nothing more rewarding than that.
What have you learnt from your time at Oscar De La Renta and Versace?
The biggest thing I took away from Versace is to trust your instinct. She (Donatella Versace) is one of the most incredible woman that immediately knows if something is Versace or it’s not. That’s what she taught me, to trust yourself and trust your instinct. A lot of designers are trying to do everything at once, and that’s not what we’re doing. We have a really singular strong point of view of that world and there’s so much you can do in that world. We are doing one thing and we’re doing it well.
What is your first fashion memory?
My mother had this sea foam green dress, I don’t know if it was pleated or embroidered, but it had a lot of volume. When I was 9 I would just go and touch it and play with it, trying to drape it in a way.
What is your vision for Halpern?
Growing our team, keeping our identity and strengthening it, not bending to the will of partners and stores and clients, having that vision and committing to it fully. I’m not saying that ideas that people give aren’t exciting or guiding, because people look out for our best interest.
Who inspires you?
There are so many people, from celebrities like Cher and Tina Turner, those real divas, to people like my sister and clients who dress and have a real point of view, to my mum who is this trailblazer for us. I like to cherry pick things from different people, I don’t think there is one person who inspires me fully, it’s taking pieces from all of these incredible women.
What is your professional moto?
Go big or go home. Or my work WhatsApp with my team is called #efficiency.
How do you summarise the world of Halpern?
Unapologetic, colourful and glamorous.