Michael Halpern made a number of commitments during lockdown and he’s planning to stick to them. Top of his agenda is giving back to communities close to his heart, just like when he invited frontline pandemic workers to model his glamorous creations in 2020, for his first digital showcase.
Now, for his return to the catwalk, he’s letting Brixton locals into his exuberant, sequined world. He recently moved into the South London neighborhood — known for its strong Caribbean roots and multicultural flair — and he felt that it was only fair that he give back.
Hence why he picked the Brixton Recreational Centre — used as a food bank — as his show location and worked with the local council to revamp the space, install electricity, and invite some of the area’s residents to the show.
The world of Brixton, with its vintage markets, underground party venues and street food, no doubt seems miles apart from Halpern’s vision of extreme glamour. But you needn’t just engage with the people who can afford your clothing, as a designer: “Letting the locals understand our world and seeing theirs is how you get closer and make progress. This part of the show is about giving people hope, excitement and some fantasy,” said Halpern, who drew inspiration from what friends in the area wore in their childhood. He melded it with more expected references, like Anjelica Huston channeling the 1930s film “Madam Satan.”
Indeed, there was something beautiful in seeing a new crop of guests gain access to the exclusive fashion week circuit and experience Halpern’s updated take on glamour, which melded some of his greatest hits from the past, like his jazzy sequined pants, with more easygoing pieces like draped satin dresses, loose maxi shirts and slinky knit dresses — given the Halpern treatment by way of giant costume jewels.
“It’s all about a balance of something super glamorous, yet somehow still retaining that sense of ease,” he mused.