Michael Halpern’s idea of a base layer piece is a roll neck covered in liquid, swirly sequins. Which should give you a fairly good idea of the kind of unapologetic, high-octane glamour he deals in.
On Monday night this week, the designer took home the coveted British Emerging Talent womenswear award at the British Fashion Awards in London – and dressed Adwoa Aboah for the evening as she was crowned Model of the Year in a mini dress dripping in dual-colour sequins and 2,000 hand-sewn Swarovski crystals with a matching turban by Stephen Jones.
It was a well-deserved win for Halpern, whose first standalone show during London Fashion Week AW17 garnered rave reviews, building on the shimmering, flared jumpsuits and candy-coloured corsets he had presented for his 2015 Central Saint Martins MA disco ball graduate show.
For AW17, the New York-born designer (who also has a degree from Parsons School of Design and has consulted on couture for Atelier Versace) worked with Saga Furs on a series of furs to expand on his modern-day Studio 54 universe. Saga® Shadow Fox stoles in canary yellow and electric blue dangled languidly off the girls’ arms, Bianca Jagger-style. One had multiple tails – like an ultra-luxe furry feather boa.
We caught up with Michael Halpern for a quick-fire round of questions after his AW17 debut, where the mood was one of giddy excitement as press and buyers crammed backstage to congratulate the designer on what felt like a much-needed invigorating injection of fun into the current fashion landscape. Without a doubt, these are clothes to have a really good time in. “Yeah, exactly!” Halpern agreed.
Has fur always been something you’ve been into?
Yeah, you know, I love fur and I think it’s such an extravagance and something that just really naturally fits into the collection. And the way you can get saturated, beautiful, really extraordinary colour out of something like Shadow Fox is amazing. Shadow Fox is pretty special.
How did the furs evolve?
At first I was just going to do these kind of bizarre vests but then they turned into these crazy octopus things that just kind of flow.
And what have you been thinking about in terms of the collection itself?
It’s just about glamour and over the top and extravagance and exuberance. It kind of is the embodiment of that. I just love it. I love the way you can have so many different things together and it can just be this really wild thing. And for sure, with everything that’s going on right now, I think you need this escapism. You need something to make you feel like you want do something extraordinary.