Global Young Designer: HALPERN

Meet London-based Michael Halpern, the designer making magpies of us all.

This article first appears in Vol. 31: Freedom.

As a native New Yorker, Michael Halpern is an advocate of black t-shirts and baseball caps. His designs, however - zestful, couture drapings and handsewn, paillette-spangled silhouettes - are all glitz and glimmer. There is little need for cajoling after witnessing a HALPERN creation in the flesh. They're magnetic and covetable, they sparkle and beguile - in other words, they're venerable magpie bait.

After leaving his NYC nest (graduating from Parsons in 2010), Halpern migrated to London to study on the feted master's programme at Central Saint Martins. His 2016 graduate collection - a menagerie of sequinned flares, exaggerated silk trains and colour-burst swirling patterns inspired by his mother's stories of 1970s New York - was all-out glamour.

Presenting at London Fashion Week in early 2017, HALPERN's inaugural show was a joyful display of hedonic habiliments.

Three years on and now based out of his South East London atelier, Halpern is steadily growing his eponymous brand, developing his point of view each season and remaining mindful not to become too distracted by shiny things...

The best thing about working on your own label is...

The complete freedom of expression - being able to design exactly what you dream of is indescribable. It's a crazy thing to go through the whole process. To see a piece of clothing go from an idea to the runway or a store halfway across the world is surreal. It's also amazing to build a team that you get excited to work with every day and bounce ideas off, argue with and challenge.

Do you feel your freedom as a designer has been hard-earned?

When I first came out with HALPERN, I had a very clear direction and point of view. You need to continue to develop that point of view every season, but it still needs to feel like you. Over time, as your collections grow and the offering becomes wider, you're able to express that small idea from your first collection in a much bigger way. It's really freeing to grow every season and to talk about more things through your work.

What was it like moving from New York to London?

Living and working in both London and New York gave me a really varied sense of experience and types of communities. I love New York - it's where I'm from - but I knew it wasn't where I was going to be for the rest of my life. Moving to London was a huge step in regards to developing as a designer. It's quite a luxurious thing to go back and do a masters after working in the industry for a while; I didn't take that for granted. For me, it seems the two cities work really differently when it comes to fashion. Because of its diversity, different communities and location, London felt more like home right away.

HALPERN has been dubbed "glamorous", "hedonic" and "escapist". How do you see it?

I think the most important word to describe HALPERN is "joy". At the end of the day, our biggest goal is to bring a little bit of fantasy and joy to people's lives through what they wear and how they wear it. I really love the fantasy of fashion - I grew up seeing a really glamorous mother and her friends always dressed like they were going to the ball. We live in a pretty scary world at the moment, so having a bit of respite from that is much-needed.

You revel in imperfections in your work. Why?

I think when things are too organised or ordered, they get a bit boring. It's kind of cliché to say, but there really is beauty in the ugly. There is even beauty in bad taste, and I really love walking that thin line between the two.

How do you want people to feel in your clothing?

I want them to feel extravagant, confident and living their full-colour fantasy!

Michael's Pocket Guide to Los Angeles


The Silverlake Pool & Inn has a gorgeous pool and incredible views. It's very LA, but without the pomp and circumstance.


Any restaurant by Nancy Silverton - she's a genius. It's classic Italian, but the last time I was there I had a corn pasta that nearly made me fall off my chair.


If you're looking to unwind, Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine is the most peaceful place in LA - some of Gandhi's ashes are here. And Tomoko is a Japanese spa with no ego.


On the right night, and with the right band, The Viper Room can be fabulous. DAMA pours a phenomenal piña colada, and Lost & Found may be the best dive bar in the city.

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