Hubert Burda Media

Five minutes with Michael Halpern: On Lynn Ban, wearable sequins and his design process

Get up to speed with the designer who lights up Club 21 with sparkly colour-popping pieces.

On local food…

“Tonight, I’m going to a hawker centre. I’m very excited about it. Lynn [Ban] has been preparing me for what we’re going to do… we both like to eat, and I think it’s very much a part of Singaporean culture. Who has the best chicken rice, who has the best roast pork… Lynn and her friends argue over where has the best food, and I love that kind of cultural aspect to it.”

[By his third day in town, Halpern has already dined on dimsum, Peking duck, Hainanese chicken rice, and declared roast pork his favourite dish.]

 On meeting Lynn Ban (AKA our August cover personality)…

“We met through Patti Wilson, who’s the stylist for my collections and shows. It was like we’ve known each other forever. She’s so cool and modern, so knowledgeable about fashion, and her jewellery is so thoughtfully designed and beautifully made.”

On working with the jewellery designer …

“We are on Whatsapp a lot. But for the Autumn/Winter 2018 collection, Patti and I went to Lynn’s office in New York to look at the clothes, and all the colours, together. It was a wonderful collaborative process. I love to have a dialogue; I believe design is a group effort, together with my team in London, Patti, Lynn, the hairstylist and make-up artist.”

On the starting point of his creative process…

“I like to listen to people. When I was working on my collection, I listened to my mother and her friends talk about what they were doing, where they were going, who they were meeting, what they were wearing, what they were doing the next day…”

On why London is incredible…

“I’d always wanted to live in London [Halpern is a New York native]. When I was around 12 years old, I visited the city and fell in love with it. For me, it’s where a young brand like mine can get similar support as a big brand like Burberry. It’s a fair playing ground. It’s about ideas, it’s about work, it’s about having your point of view. It’s not about how much you advertise, how much money you have.”

On what drives him…

“I get to wake up everyday doing something that I love. It’s so corny to say that if you do something you love, you never work a day in your life but that’s very true. I never feel like I’m working when I’m travelling, or when I’m at the studio pulling my eyeballs out at 4am in the morning because we’re trying to get a dress correct… I still don’t feel like I’m at work and I am lucky that I feel that way.”

On his love for draping…

“It’s something that I do in my free time. It’s therapeutic for me. So being able to incorporate draping in a jumpsuit in the collection had been really nice. We’ve never done a draped jumpsuit before. It’s one of my favourite pieces we’ve ever done.”

On what he would be if he wasn’t in fashion…

“Bored.”

On when he wanted to go into fashion …

“At Parsons, during my foundation year. I thought I would be a sculptor. But then I realised I like industry, I like business, and I like glamour so a sculptor was not for me. But I still love it. I take pottery classes.”

On his takeaway from working with Donatella Versace…

“Trust myself, and to trust my gut instinct. I’ve never met anyone like Donatella who can instantly say ‘That’s not for us’, or ‘That doesn’t fit, we should go in a different direction’. She’s so inherently Versace that that was incredible to witness.”

 On styling sequinned looks…

“I don’t think there is a right or wrong way. See this dress? It is not tight, it not too sexy. Wear it with sneakers and socks. Super cool. With a backpack… I think it’s fab. I love when people wear sequins like that.”

On his secret to making sequinned pieces wearable

“We bind all the sequins to satin or tulle, so the interior doesn’t feel raw. It’s a little scratchy, but you’ll never have sequins touching your skin directly.”

On mistakes women make when they shop for sequin pieces

“No mistakes.”

Find out more about Michael Halpern and what to expect for Spring/Summer 2019 from our interview in the October 2018 issue.

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