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“I have always loved denim and what could be done with it,” says Michael Halpern, the New York-born, London-based designer behind the eponymous fashion label. He’s discussing his new collaboration with American denim house J Brand, which debuted at London Fashion Week in February alongside his typically dazzling designs, and launches on 2 September. “Thinking about a material like denim and how it could be manipulated into more than just a pair of jeans was really exciting to me. You can drape it, pleat it – you can turn it on its head.”
The 32-year-old designer follows in the footsteps of Simone Rocha, Proenza Schouler, Christopher Kane and Bella Freud, which have all previously collaborated with J Brand. “I’m American,” Halpern tells me, “and denim is something that is so synonymous with American fashion. It is something I have always wanted to experiment with; a collaboration seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so.”
This collection came together in J Brand’s studio in Los Angeles, where Halpern spent a week experimenting with various washing and dyeing techniques, including an Eco Wash process, which J Brand says uses 90 per cent less water than a standard denim wash, and a stretch-denim fabric made with 30 per cent recycled cotton. The resulting nine-piece range (priced from £280) is made up of six pairs of trousers, in denim, lamé coating, snakeskin and leather, and three jackets, including a punky black patent leather balloon-sleeve trench, a softly tailored denim blazer with wide lapels and a viridian snakeskin-embossed leather blazer.
The mood of the collection combines the 1970s glamour that has become typical of Halpern’s style (flared jeans and gold sheen) with J Brand’s SoCal aesthetic (raw-edge hems and casual-cut blazers). “Denim is so synonymous with ’70s style, and of course this is something that really resonates with me in my own collections. Whether they are gorgeous, sweeping, wide-leg silhouettes or little inky black cropped numbers, denim is a really fun way to play with that era. We both have a glamorous vibe,” adds Halpern. “And [the collection] is true glamour – while kissing Americana.”
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