Student, Associate of Applied Science, Fashion Design
The Art Institute of New York City
Born and raised in Massachusetts, Michael worked as a carpenter until the age of 24. His background in carpentry has helped him excel in clothing construction and pattern making, which he says remind him of blueprints. Michael has interned at Anya Ponorovskaya and J. Mendel, which afforded him the opportunity to work with fur design and further hone his pattern-making skills.
My collection "Of a Neophyte" is inspired by the Art Nouveau artist Aubrey Beardsley. He was an early 20th Century artist from the UK who made grotesque and sexually charged paintings inspired by (or mocking) his aristocratic upbringing. My collection is inspired by costume and history, yet my personal level of creation and innovation makes the clothes very special and of a time not seen before. I stay as conceptual as possible and create clothing that is not a carbon copy of my inspiration.
Research is my strong point; I love to research. When I'm not creating, I'm researching. This is my passion in life, and I live to learn. With this collection for instance, I not only look at Beardsley's art, but I also studied his life. I wanted to know about his youth, his attitude towards society, the foods he ate, the liquor he enjoyed. I go very in-depth with all of my research to get in his mindset, to become Aubrey Beardsley. Beardsley was quoted, "My aim is for the grotesque —if I am not grotesque, I am nothing." This quote was in my mind through the entire design process. Then, I take all of this information into account and trust my gut.
After the research is done and I am ready to sketch, the thinking goes out of the window... I feel. The feelings are based upon the information that I have processed. After sketching, I swatch fabrics, and this decides in which direction I go aesthetically. This collection is a bit bridal inspired in regards to my fabrication and color story, with a lot of gazar, taffeta, organza, and charmeuse, only in shades of white, black, and nude.
I have had many inspirational teachers since walking through the doors at The Art Institute of New York City. I am highly self-motivated, so being motivated by my teachers was never an issue, but they have pointed me in the right direction design wise. I am a bit of an extremist, so the main thing I have learned through my education is editing and knowing when to stop.
One of my first classes was Fundamentals of Design with Richard Killeaney. He, as well as many others, was big on us being 100% up-to-date with the world of fashion. Professor Killeaney was very frustrated with us when we didn't know the “big stories" that were happening. I never wanted to disappoint him, so he heavily fueled my amount of researching and added to my love of research.
Fan Wu is another highly influential instructor for me. His strict, no nonsense teaching style is everything I could dream of. He has helped me dig deeper to become a better conceptual designer, he always has new innovative ideas, and inspires me to work even harder than I already do.
I have always been into fashion that tells a story — theatrical, moving, and thought provoking. I do not care about designers who focus solely on selling. This does not interest me in the slightest. There is no design, no imagination, no craftsmanship, no forward progression, no excitement. I want to see innovations of the future, not recreations of the present day.
My all time favorite designer is John Galliano. The romance, the story, the theatrical sense of things spiraling out of control, I get chills every time I re-watch (yes, I have seen them all several times) one of his fashion shows for Christian Dior.
Galliano may be my favorite ever, but Alexander McQueen was the designer who initially got me into fashion in the first place. His much darker sense of romance and storytelling was unparalleled. He taught me that fashion does not have to be about clothes; it's about the aura, the danger, the sex. McQueen was an artist, and fashion was just the medium he chose to express his art. Other designers that I am influenced by are Rick Owens, Gareth Pugh, Viktor & Rolf, Haider Ackermann, Ann Demeulemeester, and Martin Margiela.
Of course I read Women's Wear Daily. Also Style.com, Fashionista.com, Ihateblonde.com, BryanBoy.com, theblondesalad.com, purple.fr, to name a few blogs. My favorite magazines are ID, V, Purple, Parisian Vogue, and my all time favorite magazine is ZINK.
Preparing for this show is an experience I will remember forever. My first collection being shown at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is a dream that I have manifested into reality. I am still in the process of completing my garments, and I am experiencing many thrilling challenges.
I am currently taking five classes, and that workload on top of my 13 elaborate pieces (not counting accessories) for my collection is quite the task. Also, all of my designs are garments I have never done before. I never design with the thought of, "I'm going to design what I know I can make," because that stunts any kind of design growth. On a daily basis I am finding new construction solutions for design issues. It is a fun process, but very time consuming.