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The Details

Michelle Smith On Milly

Michelle Smith

Milly’s Fashion Week front row can be counted on to read like the ultimate style maven role call – think Olivia Palermo, Solange Knowles, Ashley Graham – as models saunter down the runway in yet another of Michelle Smith's collections that is destined to be seen on street-stylers and A-listers alike. 

We talk to Michelle, founder of the New York-based label, about how she landed her dream job and who she’d love to see wearing Milly...

How did you know fashion was your calling?

I was extremely fortunate knowing that, from a very young age, I wanted to be a fashion designer. As an artistic child, my parents then really supported and encouraged me when my art turned into fashion illustration and fashion design. During that time, my mother said: 'You’ll become a fashion designer in Paris one day!' This really opened up the world of fashion and its possibilities to me.

What are some of the most unforgettable things you learned while interning at major fashion houses such as Hermès, Dior and Louis Vuitton?

My internships at these major houses really shaped how I built Milly. The traditions of couture, the attention to detail, and the uniqueness of each individual piece – all of these things stuck with me when I decided to build my own business. I am a self-proclaimed fabric snob, and many of the fabric suppliers and trim suppliers I formed relationships with then, I use today for Milly.

You’re a favourite among the A-list – what do you think it is about your brand that makes it a go-to?

It’s such a thrill to dress smart, sexy, accomplished women. No matter what, it’s always a pinch-me moment. I think women relate so well to Milly because my designs make them feel vibrant, alluring and empowered. I use the most luxurious fabrics and transform them in the most wearable ways. I love pieces that can be transitioned easily, whether it is layering in a cool, sporty way, or easy day-to-night looks.

  • "I love seeing my pieces layered in unexpected ways."
  • Solange
  • Olivia Palermo
How would you sum up the Milly aesthetic?

Bold, luxurious, sexy and irreverent.

How do you like to see Milly pieces styled?

It’s always unique to see how women choose to style Milly. Personally, I love seeing my pieces layered in unexpected ways: a shirt worn backwards, a crop top worn over a blouse, or mixing stripes and patterns...

How has the Milly look evolved over the years?

When I first launched Milly, we were coming out of the ‘90s, which was very minimalistic. My collection was different because it was full of colour and patterns, and was extremely feminine. As I have evolved, so has my collection. I tap into my emotions for inspiration and look toward the future, which lends a more advanced aesthetic.

Who is the Milly woman?

The Milly woman is intelligent, confident, sexy, intriguing and has a fantastic sense of humour – a lethal combination. 

Michelle Smith show
How would you describe your personal style?

My personal style has evolved with the Milly brand – I love putting unexpected twists on my own style and it changes day to day. Some days you’ll find me in a Milly tee with a wide-leg trouser and sneakers, other days I’m testing out a new special-occasion dress for Milly and wearing it everywhere to get a feel. In my wardrobe you’ll find a lot of Milly, of course!

Present or past – who would you love to dress and why?

While I was in school, I worked for the Hermès boutique on Madison Avenue and had the opportunity to help Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. She epitomised style, grace, kindness and sophistication. I would have loved to dress her in Milly.

What does Autumn/Winter 2018 look like for the Milly woman?

Pre-Fall 2018 is called ‘The Bullfighter’; it's inspired by the #metoo movement, particularly the strong, brave women who have stepped forward and spoken out to name their high-profile, powerful abusers. Bold, rich colours and vibrant prints combined with strong, sexy silhouettes set the tone for this collection. As it leads up to Autumn/Winter 2018, that collection is inspired by the concept of equality. The colours are rich and intense, all the colours of the rainbow: monochromatic, head-to-toe colour, rich textures...