Summer may be in full swing but the style set is already looking ahead to September, and a month of Fashion Weeks. And when it comes to planning the wardrobe for such things you take your cue from the experts. Which is what has got us re-enamoured with the lovely Michelle Harper – front-row fixture and someone well worth taking sartorial tips from.
Over the last few seasons the Columbian-born, New York raised philanthropist and entrepreneur has become a photographer favourite thanks to her wacky but unwaveringly chic ensembles. You wouldn’t expect an outfit that anyone described as ‘a candy coloured dish’ stylish, let alone the wearer, but in Harper’s case she pulls it off with aplomb.
Most serious fashion figures pick a look and stick to it, but a large part of Harper’s allure is down to her devotion to mixing things up, to jumping from one form of dress to another. ‘The world is changeable, we shouldn’t fight it, we should just go with it’ she explains, demonstrating her point by stepping out in Anna Piaggi-esque mismatched furs and a hat Anna Dello Russo would be jealous of one day and then a simple yet elegant couture dress the next.
Of course hers is a lifestyle of old-school glamour – jet-setting and playing muse to some of the industry’s top creatives, and it’s hard to imagine how to emulate someone in such a charmed position, after all, most people don’t have a personal hairdresser who was responsible for Rooney Mara’s look in Girl With A Dragon Tattoo
. But there are ways of echoing Harper’s eclectic, flash-bulb friendly style. A love of unusual vintage pieces is one, Harper cites Alexander McQueen
, Zac Posen, Yves Saint Laurent
and Victor de Souza, but her real passion is for antique fashion finds, scouring local stores on her trips away and asking friends abroad to keep an eye out for pieces she might like.
And the more detailed and odd looking the better, with Harper welcoming bright, brash and tailored pieces into her wardrobe. Fur too, in its more unconventional forms plays a big role in her attire, and with colourful and psychedelic versions proving a huge hit for A/W 12, those of both the real and fake variety should be readily available this season.
But it’s Harper herself who best sums up the essence of her style, ‘(it) should be a means of personal expression and improvement. It should never make you feel like you don’t have enough or you’re not on trend enough’.