Fashion Week Interviews

Behind the Seams: Milly Spring/Summer 2014

Enter into the world of Milly and watch Michelle Smith, the creative force behind the brand, translate the idea of transparency into a three-dimensional sculpted look for spring/summer 2014.

Michelle invited The Thread to sit in on the model castings and final fittings for her show.

To make the Milly casting cut, you need to exude femininity with a modern edge.

French model Loulou Robert stops by the showroom to finalize the fit on the two looks she’ll wear for the show.

The Parisian glam-girl is also the face of Milly’s fall ’13 ad campaign.

“I’ve got a base palette of black and white. You’ll see a lot of clean, stark silhouettes, but color really comes into play via my prints,” says Michelle, who designs all her own patterns.

Vintage accessories give the ultra-modern collection an added layer of depth. We can’t wait to see how she puts it all together.

It’s almost showtime! We catch up with the designer at The Stage at Lincoln Center, where we find models Anya Kazakova, Emeline Ghesquiere, Vasilisa Pavlova and Steffi Soede donning heels by Manolo Blahnik for Milly spring ’14.

“For me, the collection always begins with the fabric. I love designing fabric and customizing it. Most, if not all, of my fabrics are European,” says Michelle. “I love taking a fabric swatch that may appear sporty or athletic and then transform it into something very feminine and beautiful.”

“I keep eight factories in New York pretty busy year-round, and they are all within a five-mile radius from my studio,” she says of her New York-made brand. “I make 12 ready-to-wear collections a year, so one each month, as well as 5 cabana swimwear collections, Milly Minis childrenswear and handbags.”

Milly’s black and white palette is punctuated with splashes of tropical and floral prints. “I was in Hawaii back in April on the Big Island and the prints were really conceived from that trip. Prior to Hawaii I was in Japan. so you’ll see touches of Japanese floral layered in,” she adds.

There’s nothing like bringing your kids to work when you’re a fashion designer. Michelle’s two children, William and Sophia, join her on the runway to watch the preshow run-through. And it appears William, who is all smiles, sees something he likes.

Models practice moving to the music before it’s time to change into the first looks.

“This collection really emphasizes the classic silhouette: bust, waist and hips. I wanted to draw attention to the hourglass proportions of a woman’s body,” says Michelle. “There’s also a lot of play on structure and shape.”

The key luxurious fabric used in the collection feels almost like a carbon fiber. What makes this material so advanced is that the transparencies give an X-ray effect.

This sportswear-inspired look with its architectural illusions feels so fresh and chic for spring.

Michelle’s attention to detail and continuous fabric innovation truly make her a master among contemporary designers. Bravo!

Qianna Smith
Photos by Fernando Colon