I found Michael through the legendary designer Koos Van den Akker. Koos refers to Michael as a true "outsider artist," someone who is not affected in anyway by trends, and having met him, this is an understatement. I was moved to tears by Michael when I met him. His talent as a designer is profoundly original and artistic (we will be posting pictures from the show of his F/W '09 collection tomorrow) and inseparable from his personal style in authentic expression, but his spirit, positive energy, and humility are the most exhilarating. Michael says that he doesn't even look anymore when getting dressed; like a tribe, his wardrobe is so a part of him that he throws his clothes on and they always reflect him, which includes the depth of his life experiences and his heritage. He grew up with the influences of great-grandparents and grandparents who had origins in Jamaica and the Bahamas, including a grandmother who was a seamstress and would bring him European fashion magazines, and parents who deconstructed and reconstructed clothes from the 70's with no inhibition. Michael was a visionary at an early age, making top hats from cardboard and fervently drawing on anything - even when his family couldn't afford pen and paper, he found a way. The richness of his background can be seen in how he makes sweaters from old socks, a pleated skirt is made of tuxedo pants and lace, creepers are decorated with tribal paint, and a tuxedo hat is embellished with feathers from an indigenous country. Michael is a reluctant icon; he told me that when he leaves his apartment, people in the neighborhood wait to see what he is wearing (and I wish I lived next door to see). He says, "If I am going to do laundry or or I am going to the grocery, I decide, 'Oh, I am going to wear a suit,' or 'I want to wear a kilt,' or 'I just want to wear a cardboard hat,' and I just go."