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SF Fashion Week

Michelle Mason is a trendsetter—even though she may not know it. In a town, where skin is readily bared for all to see, Michelle assiduously creates collections that exalt perfect cut, construction and attention to detail.

The young talent’s creations are easily identifiable, for they reveal by concealing. Ms. Mason’s elegant designs are conceived to flatter the feminine figure sans risqué overexposure. Her masterful touch molds opulent fabric like cashmere, wool, and silk into sophisticated pieces for confident women.

Michelle’s inventive approach to the art of clothes making, underscored by retro inspirations, is best examplified by her rigorously tailored. Edwardian jackets, trousers and riding pants. Just right for urban girls, with a penchant for distinctive style, these chic clothes reinterpret elegance as seen through the clean lens of sensual minimalism.

Michelle Mason dares to be different in the face of conveyor belt consumerism, and it is this pioneering which will set the standard for Los Angeles fashion.

Fashionlines Interviews Michelle Mason

F: Your work is positively nonconformist. How has this approach served you thus far?

MM: I don’t really look at it that way. Probably, more than anything, it is because I am not educated. I don’t follow the industry as closely as I should. Each season, I have very specific ideas of what I want to do. I usually go with these ideas rather than following what is going on. So many designers do exactly that already.

F: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

MM: Mostly, the Victorian era. Also paintings, artwork, books, and movies, but when people ask me this kind of question, I have a difficult time coming up with an answer. In each collection, I draw ideas from so many different areas. For me, the most important task is bringing it together and having it make sense.

F: What kind of a Michelle Mason woman do you have in mind when conceptualizing your collections?

MM: I don’t necessarily have a specific woman in mind when I am designing. Perhaps, I envision someone who is not trendy-- more sophisticated and distinct; someone who seeks a brand that is not mainstream; an individual who does not want to look like every other girl out there.

F: What sets your designs apart? What is the mark of the Michelle Mason look?

MM: If you look at my tailored pieces; definitely the fit because it is different from anything you see out there. I hear that my line runs very small. Also, a lot of my jackets have an hourglass silhouette. Right now, fashion is all about sexappeal and I have a tendency to stay away from that—I don’t know whether that’s good or bad. My necklines, for instance, are very high. My clothes are made for a very specific customer because not everybody can get away with them. My pieces exude sexappeal in a different way, you know, without bearing everything for all to see.

F: How does being an LA-based designer work alongside this vision?

MM: (Giggles) Not to my advantage, but I am getting better at it. Not everything I do is completely covered up. But there are ways to mix different pieces, so that you can juxtapose different ideas.

F: Does your line have a clear divide between day and eveningwear?

MM: It is very trendy right now to translate eveningwear into daywear and vice-versa. It is possible to come up with pieces that transcend those boundaries. Now you can wear a fancy dress with flip flops and no one would look twice at you, well, at least on the East and West Coast. I have a lot of customers who like dressy pieces during the day and they know exactly how to dress them down for the occasion. It depends on individual preferences.

F: Who are some of the designers who have influenced your work?

MM: I tend to lean more towards the Belgian designers, the Belgian 6. You would not necessarily see their influence in my work, except for a few pieces. However, they have always been my favorite, so aside from my own clothes, in my closet, if I can afford it, I try to add a piece or two from the 6; like Margiela and Demeulemeester. Rick Owens is a big influence too.

F: What are your recommendations for someone trying look elegant and chic?

MM: Right now, the tailored jacket. There is something very elegant about wearing a jacket. Especially, when it comes to my collection because I am best known for my jacket cuts—I think.

F: Elaborate a little on the Edwardian feel of your last collection.

MM: I think when you draw from the past, it is really important to keep it fresh and modern. If you are going to do the equestrian look, just keep to a jacket or a pair of pants, as opposed to the head to toe look.

F: According to you, what is the most offensive fashion faux pas?

MM: There are so many, but the bare midriff is probably the worst. Super low-cut pants and a tiny top—it just bothers me. I do not think I have ever designed something that reveals the navel. I like to reveal tastefully, perhaps, the shoulders or the back.

F: What are you opinions on LA style?

MM: LA girls have a lot of style. A big majority of the girls you see sporting skimpy little outfits at the Skybar on a Saturday are tourists. Though, admittedly, it is hard for me to be objective. I constantly associate with the fashion industry people. The business insiders are very fashion savvy. Here, there is a great contingency of people with a great fashion sense. At the same time, Paris Hilton is LA’s latest fashion icon. Since she is all about bearing it all, people all over the world associate her look with this town. It’s sad, but not everybody has that kind of fashion sense; otherwise, I would not be in business today.

F: How do you feel about LA Fashion Week?

MM: I have mixed feelings about it. I have been showing here for so many years that I have seen, first hand, how the week has evolved. The number of LA designers has quadrupled in the last 5 years. When people hear ‘LA fashion’, they automatically think denim and t-shirts. But with the boom, some legitimate designers have emerged here. Although, LAFW needs to be organized differently, so that it is very specific. One day designer wear, the following day denim and swimwear for example. Louis Verdad should not be showing with Rock & Republic – it is a denim line for god’s sake. Also, I wonder why denim brands need to show at all. I don’t understand the point of walking a girl down the catwalk in a pair of jeans and nothing else on. Is that what fashion is about? Sometimes, LA Fashion Week confuses me, but on the same token, it is an opportunity for local designers to show without leaving town. Why should we have to leave if this is where we live and work?

F: What does the future hold for Michelle Mason?

MM: Right now, I am nurturing Mason, my diffusion line. My company is very small, housing 3 full-time employees. We simply don’t sleep to get it all done. The Collection and Mason was too much for us to handle. That is why, I wanted to focus on one thing and grow it. I would like to bring back Collection and the shoe line, but all in due time.




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