Brigitte & Michael Conti

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Brigitte and Michael (or Maj and Faj, as their daughter Sophie lovingly refers to them) are happy to be considered gypsies in their hometown of Greenwich, Connecticut. For those of you (and there were many) who adored Sophie’s feature on SLU for its sparkling mix of taste and humor, you will fall for her parents. I had a picture of them in my mind when Sophie told me many of her hilarious and atypical-of-suburbia childhood stories, standing out in my mind is her mother running around the house in chinchilla underwear when the rest of the soccer moms were (well, you can imagine) an army of North Face jackets (and not turned upside down). At some point during our interview, Michael referred to meeting his wife in Geneva as “we were both running from something” – he from New Jersey and Arizona and she from a small town in France. And the nomadic theme runs through – Brigitte had a very successful clothing line called Manouche, which means gypsy woman in French.

Though her style has evolved into an eclectic blend of cultivated French bohemian with her oversized white cuffed shirts, statement jewelry, and drapey tube skirts, her sense of classic design began early with her strict Catholic school uniforms, where she was only allowed to wear pants if the standard pleated skirt was over them (very Margiela-esque). However, her more uncontained spirit was apparent when her father gave her and her siblings the okay to do anything they wanted with their bedrooms – she filled her walls with pen drawings, and she hasn’t stopped creating since. For Michael, clothes are meant to be about “not shocking people, but at the same time not dressing in Brooks Brothers.” He loves that his Etro blazer appears conventional, but inside “it’s fun with lots of hidden detail” that belies anything ordinary, like multi-colored silk lining, hidden zippers, and leather inserts. Michael can’t help but crack up at his mannish Rolex-type tank watch (that is ironically “Michelle” brand) and almost every pair of shoes he owns are Tod’s, he happens to wear his only pair of brand-less loafers for this shoot (purely unintentionally, but it goes along with his un-show-off-ish manner). Fashion words of wisdom from Faj: “It’s ok to have one pair of not-Tod’s,” and from Maj: “I do not want to be cute. I want to be dramatic.”

If you like Brigitte and Michael, you might also enjoy Sophie Conti, Beatrix Ost and Ludwig Kuttner.