Meet Michael Halpern: The Designer Who Wants To Dress The World In Sequins

As he launches a new collection with Browns, the designer talks us through his impressive rise

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If there's one brand you need to know about in 2018, it's Michael Halpern. Since showing his first eponymous collection at London Style Week in February 2017, he has become the go-to man for anyone searching for feel-good, glamorous partywear.

Known for his Studio 54-worthy sequins and sculptural shapes, Halpern – who previously worked at Versace and Oscar de la Renta - has become very popular very quickly. His shimmering designs have been worn by Adwoa Aboah, Amal Clooney, Diane Kruger, Lupita Nyong'o and Marion Cotillard. He makes minimalists want to channel their inner maximalists.

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In December, he won the British Emerging Talent award for womenswear at the Style Awards. Over the last year alone, he has acquired 15 major stockists around the world. This weekend, he'll throw London Style Week's buzziest party at burger joint Five Guys to celebrate his new collaboration with iconic store Browns. He is, quite literally, dazzling the fashion world.

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Michael Halpern with Adwoa Aboah, who is wearing one of his dresses, at the 2017 Style Awards
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"I must admit it has been quite intense and happened quite quickly," he told us of his sudden ascent to fame. "My daily life hasn't changed at all; I still do the same things I did all along. I guess the difference is when I go to an event or a fashion thing - it's a strange feeling to go somewhere and not know everybody, but people seem to know who I am."

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Halpern, 30, hasn't let the success go to his head. He says his Brussels Griffon puppy, Rupert, keeps him grounded and one of his closest friends is a neo-natal surgeon. He has a predisposition for haribo and cider, and – far from the high-octane glamour of his own designs - is mostly seen in a baseball cap and slouchy trousers. While he might not be a sequinned-wearer per se, he can't resist the pull of glitter.

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Lupita Nyong'o in Halpern at the Star Wars premiere in December 2017
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What's more, the designer thinks that sequins pack a political punch – after all, what could be a better sartorial antithesis to Brexit and Trump than a gloriously uplifting disco dress?

"I am a magpie through and through," he said. "I think there is something really beautiful and powerful in a type of sparkly protest."

If Halpern could dress anyone in the world, he'd choose the ultimate diva, Diana Ross ("of course"), but – as much as his clothes lend themselves to red carpets – he also is a firm believer in sequins by day.

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"I think inappropriate glamour is one of the best things in the world," he says. "Who says you can't wear sequin trousers by day? I don't think those rules have every applied, and certainly don't apply to the modern woman."

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Diane Kruger in Halpern
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Like all truly desirable clothes, Halpern's pieces have an emotional pull; it's about how they make the wearer feel. Style editor and influencer Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert recently told the that his sequinned designs are a "mood-booster" that make her "feel like a superstar".

The designer himself agrees that there is an almost fairy godmother-like effect to his collections.

"The appeal is possibly the way it makes women feel powerful," he mused. "If they are this woman, then maybe the clothing personifies how they feel. If they aren't this woman naturally, maybe it could give them a push or the power to feel like this woman."

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Halpern for Browns dress, £1,300
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For now, he's focusing on his autumn/winter 2018 collection, as well as – six sparkling pieces which focus on the styles the label is best known for, including bustier tops and flared trousers.

"There are a couple super-draped mini dresses that I really love," he says of his favourite pieces. "They are so wild and out there, and I love that Browns has the guts not only to see them as editorial runway pieces, but instead, pieces that their customers would love to wear. As far as styling, I love a bit of juxtaposition. If you wore the wild sequin mini dress with a really menswear-inspired wool coat - I think that could be pretty fabulous."

Halpern has cleverly taken influences of his former employers, the empowering glamour of Versace and the classic elegance of Oscar de la Renta, to create a look that makes women feel like disco-ready goddesses. In fact, Donatella likes what Halpern does so much that he consulted on the brand's latest couture show.

The designer says that the most important thing that he's taken from his former boss was a philosophy – and it will certainly serve him in good stead.

"Trust my gut, be committed, and treat everyone with kindness always," he said. "Your team is your family."

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