fashion designers

Halpern’s F/W ’18 collection is inspired by the insatiable style of the late New York City socialite Nan Kempner.

Michael Halpern, designer of Halpern

Michael Halpern

Meet fashion’s reigning prince of disco-glamour. With just three full-fledged collections under his belt since he graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2016, the American-born, London-based designer has already sealed his spot as the name to don for maximalist and Studio 54 chic: pieces festooned with glitter, sequins and demi-couture finishes (he consulted for Atelier Versace). Halpern will be stocked exclusively at Club 21 Four Seasons from August.

Dress codes no longer exist

There’s irreverence in Halpern’s pieces, such as a gigot sleeve that morphs into ruffles, or the hacked-up shoulder of a dress that cascades into a minidress.

“The word ‘escapism’ is an important one for me, and in the current state of affairs, I think it is what a lot of people turn to fashion for. Women don’t want to conform to what is, or is not, appropriate anymore. There shouldn’t be any rules when it comes to fashion, and that’s the way my team and I work. You shouldn’t be confined to only being dressed up once a year, where’s the fun in that?”

Full-on glam is dated

“I think women want to feel glamorous at times, and I think there is a way to dress in a spectacular way that doesn’t feel dated. Modernity is one of the most important things when it comes to being glamorous. When you wear a sequined dress or a bustier, pairing it with something more casual is a great way to balance things out – it feels quite modern. A bit of high and low always looks great.”

Staples don’t have to be basic

“Staples for a maximalist wardrobe is anything that stretches you outside your comfort zone a little bit. Pushing yourself a little, and taking a risk is what I think maximalism really comes down to. Our two-tone zebra print embroidery from F/W ’18 is a great way to do that.”

Personal connection matters more than the price

“I think, more than ever, people want quality in a product and want it to have made some kind of personal connection to them. There are so many luxury products in the world – so if a dress or a pair of trousers can trigger something emotional for them, that’s when I think this business works the best for everyone.”

Real women are the true style influencers

“I think the real influencers in fashion are not people who you see everywhere in the magazines or online. They’re people who you can tell really love clothing and what that represents. When someone looks so confident and satisfied wearing a piece of clothing they’ve purchased, I think that is the most influential thing you can witness. I don’t really look at street style that much, it’s not a focus for me, but someone who I love to watch is (Singapore-born and New York-based jewellery designer) Lynn Ban. She’s someone I admire so much for her love of fashion, and how she really goes for it. But again it goes back to women who aren’t always in the spotlight who are the most inspirational.”

Halpern revels in the idea of “inappropriate glamour” – donning an evening look at noon, breaking dress codes, and enjoying the thrill of being out of place.

Fernando Garcia, co-creative director of Oscar de la Renta and Monse

Fernando Garcia (right) and Laura Kim

Together with Laura Kim, the architecture-trained New Yorker is part of the new generation of designers updating the notion of American sportswear with a youthful, experimental flair – all without losing the functionality and elegance intrinsic to it. Both Oscar de la Renta, where they debuted as creative directors in F/W ’17, and Monse – their own three-year-old label – are stocked at

Bring back the “power” jacket – and keep it

“I think everyone wants to have a jacket that’s versatile. It’s a new product category for us, so it’s really exciting, and people have been responding well to it. We’re definitely big fans of suiting, so at Monse, we deconstruct it, whereas at Oscar we update it with say, a punch of colour.”

Don’t just e-shop, e-research

“Laura shops online all the time. She’s constantly that way to keep an eye on what’s available on the market. It’s a very competitive market, and you need to know the price points and product categories that are keeping people excited, so online shopping is a good way to research.”

Take cues from street style

“It’s very relevant – street style’s a way for everybody to put their own interpretation on what they think a particular brand is about, so it has allowed a lot of flexibility for the world to access a brand and reimagine it in their own way. In the past, it was just you buying the perfume, and it was all you could buy into, because the dress was too expensive. But now,
you can interpret the idea of any brand, and combine it with the rest
of your wardrobe.”

Design matters over price

“These days, designs have to be both impactful and at the right price. I think before, it was more of an understanding of the craft, and the need for a luxurious fabric. Now, people see fashion as a means to have a bit more fun. It does not need to be tremendously expensive, so you need to sharpen your pencil and come up with more creative ideas that can be adaptable for today’s woman. Then there’s also social media – I actually find it to be beneficial for us (as designers). Laura and I have always gravitated towards things that are very graphic, such as pronounced draping, or bold, contrasting colours. So when we started Monse, our aesthetics lent themselves perfectly to that generation.”

Seasons and genders don’t (really) matter

“They do a little bit – primarily in the choosing of fabrics, but not as much as before, especially when we have four deliveries and so many clients to cater to around the world. We basically make sure everything is light, because at the end of the day, people will always want things that are lighter than heavier. Regarding gender, we always make sure to balance femininity and masculinity into everything we make, and that’s one of the benefits of having both me and Laura – our ideas are intertwined in our designs.”

Patcharavipa Bodiratnangkura, founder of fine jewellery label Patcharavipa

Patcharavipa Bodiratnangkura

Starting the brand in 2014, the Bangkok-born, Central Saint Martins-trained designer is an insider favourite for her glamorous-meets-industrial aesthetic with her organic-looking pieces. Recently, the label debuted its latest collection at Dover Street Market Singapore.

Convertible jewellery should be the new normal

“I like something that’s versatile, which is why I think transformable jewellery is smart. It’s like having a skirt that you can wear as a tube top, or a men’s shirt that can be worn as a dress. It’s beneficial for someone to spend a certain amount of money on a piece of jewellery and have the option of wearing it in different ways. For instance, our Polki hoop earrings come with rose-cut sapphire charms that can be detached and worn as pendants.”

Traditional, hand-done techniques will always be relevant

“Fact is, these age-old techniques last. A lot of my designs are done by hand and use [techniques such as] age-old four-prong setting, enamelling, and cabochon setting. Our latest Ginkgo Metrics collection features imperfect imprints inspired by the Japanese art of flower pressing. These patterns were developed on the computer, but executed by hand. Mixing the new with the old gives the pieces personality and a richer tactile quality.”   

There’s no gender divide when wearing jewellery

“Gender is generally fluid in fashion and art. There is no control in what’s right or wrong. You have to be open-minded and accept the fact that a ring can look better on a man than a girl. [This philosophy] comes naturally when I design. Even when I don’t think of the designs as masculine, our male customers show that they can be so.”

Gold is more attractive than diamonds

“At least in my opinion. Diamonds aren’t that rare, but are something that women want. I like gold more. It can be bent into many designs – you can make a chair out of gold – whereas a diamond can only be cut into a certain silhouette and geometry. My designs feature a type of 18K gold called Siam gold that we create and mould in Thailand, featuring a hue that’s not so yellow.”

Titanium is cool

“It’s light and is used to build aeroplanes. I used it once for a three-piece collaboration with (Swiss jewellery maison) Adler in 2012. In its white form, it looks a little like platinum and has a very nice colour. The weight – us jewellers always talk about weight and how it feels when you wear it – is also nice.”

This story first appeared in Female’s July 2018 print issue.