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trends & subculturesThursday, September 13, 2018

On the Radar: Michael Halpern and British Vogue's Sarah Harris Talk Minimalism and Maximalism


Sure, British Vogue’s Sarah Harris and American designer Michael Halpern are two unlikely bedfellows. Harris, the industry stalwart and editor, has long been lionized for her simplistic, highly considered approach to style; a roster of jeans, understated shirts and t-shirts. Meanwhile, Halpern’s New York-born, London-based label is drenched in a sea of sequins.


That’s the power of Halpern, though. With a growing cadre of unexpected followers (Harris included), the label’s appealing to all kinds of modern minimalists and spirited maximalists. It’s now perfectly acceptable to rock glittery, paillette flares during the day, trippy sequin tops by night – whatever your style. Here, Halpern invites Harris, and Farfetch, into his world.


You’ve previously said ‘it’s like a split personality; dressing should be how you can be different people’, how so?

Michael Halpern: Now that people are living in the clothing outside of the runway, it’s so exciting to see how women interpret Halpern in their own way. Some really exciting looks include the way in which women style it for themselves; it feels really authentic when you see how she incorporates it into her world and makes it truly hers.


Halpern designs have the power to turn minimalists into maximalists, why do you think this is? 

That's a really exciting idea! In some ways, I feel the clothing is something that gives you 'permission', as a concept.  It may have been something you would have admired from afar, but now more than ever I think people are really experimenting with things outside of their comfort zone, giving themselves a truly individual voice in regards to fashion; a voice that maybe would be stifled in another part of our society.


Does your style ever switch from minimalist to maximalist?

Not really. Not many people really understand that being a designer is really physical; I barely ever sit at a desk, and I'm always running around the studio. I dress purely for function. Somehow I always end up with sequins everywhere when I go for a shower, though!  


You work in West London and live in East London, do such contrasting neighbourhoods have an impact on your life and work?

Absolutely. I like the contrast of the vibes. Also, the commute is important for me. I get to listen to my music, observe people, and be sort of a spectator  – being a voyeur is exciting.


Your designs juxtapose after-dark glamour with haute couture, why is this?

After midnight is a really magical time. Things happen late at night; they morph and become something else. I also love, and was trained, in really classical techniques of couture and beautiful finishing.


Can you give us a hint on what to expect for the SS19 show?

SS19 is about feeling a bit less restricted in both the notions of the evening and the shapes of the clothes.  


Tell us about your style…

Sarah Harris: I’m such a minimalist, but when I go out, I go all out. During the day, I’m pretty formulaic when it comes to getting dressed. I like a uniform and I don’t stray too far from blue jeans and a shirt or t-shirt, but when it comes to event dressing, I now love the drama of sequins and crystals. 


You’ve often described your style as minimalist, how has it evolved?

I’m a lot more considered now with how I shop. I know what works, and I know the kind of pieces I want to pull out from my wardrobe to wear every day. I repeat buy but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.


Who or what has influenced your style most?

I’m not sure exactly but Phoebe Philo’s Celine and The Row has a lot to answer for.


How did you first discover Halpern?

I suddenly saw some people in his head to toe sequins and it caught my attention. 


What’s your favourite Halpern piece? 

I have a few of his sequin roll neck sweaters in a few different colour ways, which I love. They’re super glamorous but at the same time effortless  – throw it on with jeans and you’re good to go. 


Do you think wearing Halpern makes women feel empowered?

Definitely. You can’t not feel good in his sequins!


Has Halpern changed the way we perceive glamour?

He’s definitely part of that Eighties glamorous narrative that we’re seeing so much of right now. I’m quite drawn to that good taste/bad taste vibe. 

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