"You have to have passion. It doesn't matter what passion you have," says Michelle, echoing her Haitian mother, who taught her to either do something all the way or to not do it at all. Michelle lives and breathes the art of dressing -- inhaling such details as a Rodarte tiered gown whose dots do not repeat themselves. Everything about Michelle's spirit makes us drool, from the iconic choice of her white leather Comme bra (worn over a white shirt or under a blazer) to her time in Miami, where she existed hand-to-mouth before settling in as a mom, living on oatmeal, fresh air, jazz, and hand-painted walls of Cocteau murals instead of furniture.
Age has put Michelle on the trajectory towards self-confidence and going for it. In a metallic Balenciaga superwoman dress, YSL metal plated moccasins, Rodarte cutout leather leggings, and gargantuan Givenchy discus earrings, Michelle is a modern-day Pharaoh -- an intimidating apparition that could go toe-to-toe with Napoleon and Caesar. Don't be fooled by the prim bow atop layers of pouffy Junya Watanabe, Michelle possesses a humble self-possession, one that she has attained as much from mothering three boys in the quaintness of Cologne as from shooting videos of Paris fashion shows for Garage Magazine. She is unfazed by both front row fodder and that her son thinks that she looks like a strawberry in her clothes. A poignant moment in our interview came when we asked her what she would take to a desert island out of her voluminous amount of clothes and chunky shoes. Michelle's answer? "A bottle of water, sun cream, a hat, and towel." Meaning, she could leave it all behind.
Whether spending the day in Paris's subway in a Rei Kawakubo mummy-inspired apparition (where she was unable to pee or eat all day) or with her own two-inch penis jewelry designs, Michelle has no interest in clothing as a means to fall in line with the newest karaoke "It" bag. The goal of her conceptions is to engage people in a way that incites questions, thinking, and a communal discussion about fashion. Her own accessory designs are inspired by the nakedness of the jungle and the rituals of primitive cultures that she read about in Claude Levi-Strauss's books. They will not be mass-marketed anytime soon, but are more likely to become collector's pieces among those who seek to be touched by legitimate adornment. As Michelle philosophizes, "If you're for everybody, you're for nobody."
Elisa & Lily
Michelle's video was edited by Adaeze Elechi.
You can see more of Michelle's jewelry here.