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
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
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
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
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.