LONDON — Talk about a high-pressure debut.
Michael Halpern may be a newcomer at London Fashion Week, but his presentation is already a hot ticket and stores including Browns and Matchesfashion.com, Bergdorf Goodman and Jeffrey, The Webster in Miami, and Maxfield in Los Angeles have already picked him up.
The 29-year old New Yorker launched his disco-laced eveningwear label last year, and he admitted that life’s been a rollercoaster since then with the changes coming at warp speed.
“Six months ago I didn’t even have a company,” said Halpern in an interview here. “We did all of our sales in Paris during Couture week – just before this show was happening. So we have all of our stockists, and all of our orders are in and confirmed. It’s been amazing.”
He showed his graduate range during London Fashion Week last February as a part of the Central Saint Martins MA show, and it was filled with glittery glam disco designs. On Saturday, Feb. 18, he is set to present his fall collection on schedule from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
He describes his aesthetic with words such as “glamour, extreme opulence, texture and vibrancy,” and said his fall 2017 outing is “definitely a growth from my Masters collection. I’m playing more with the idea of pushing the extreme glamour and volume of the silhouette while staying true to the ethos of the brand. My basic is a multi-colored, sequin polo neck.”
Prices range from 520 pounds, or $633, for a rose gold sequin sleeveless polo neck to 15,000 pounds, or $18,274, for a custom piece.
Halpern’s backstory is a cross-cultural one. Born and raised in New York, he graduated from Parsons School of Design with a BFA in fashion design in 2010. He went on to study for an MA in Women’s Wear at Central Saint Martins in London before launching his eponymous label. He has worked as an assistant designer at J. Mendel and at Oscar de la Renta. He is currently a consultant for the couture collections at Atelier Versace.
He decided to show his range in the British capital because of his experience at Saint Martins. “I think showing in London is important because I was educated here. I can’t really see myself showing anywhere else. London is so amazing for young brands and promoting young brands and for not only thinking about major money makers.”
He also likes the international vibe of the city. “I think of London as very exciting, and young. It’s such a melting pot. That really excites me. People from New York and Paris, the Middle East and the Far East and all over Europe are here. London just seems like the most natural and exciting place to have a brand.”
His studio and small team are located in Hackney, east London, about 40 minutes from the factory he works with. “I want everything to continue to be made in England,” said Halpern. “It’s really important to me because England has been so supportive of me, I want to be able to come full circle, in a way, so it will always, as far as I can see, stay in England.”
The label is still independent, sustained by Halpern’s savings, store orders and work for Atelier Versace.
“We have a production cap that we wouldn’t go above. With all of the stores’ backing, we really could have tripled the production, but it’s about growing slowly and organically and not taking anything on that would sink the business. So we only produce as much as is realistic,” he said. “It’s about growing slowly.”
Halpern splits his time between London and Versace in Milan. “Donatella has been really supportive and really wonderful. I’ve never felt so welcome in a place. When everyone talks about Versace feeling like a family – it really is. They welcome you with open arms and they are so supportive. Being able to be a part of that couture team is amazing and lovely.”
Halpern said that even before he worked at Versace, it was something he’d always looked to “because the construction of Versace is second to none,” he added. “The wealth of knowledge that they impart to you is so important and so genuine that it absolutely informs my work. The way you eat together and go out together – it inspires my brand and it’s how, in the future, I’d love for my brand to work.”