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FORTE Beads Collaborations: Michael Halpern

Michael Halpern is a London-based fashion designer who, following his studies at Parsons and Central Saint Martins, was hired to consult for Donatella Versace. Having launched his own line in 2017, Michael’s clothes are deeply personal, sourcing inspiration from his mother’s iconic Studio 54 looks never shying away from a bit of colour and sparkle. “Whether it be jewel tones mixed with neutrals or brights mixed with pastels, as long as there is balance or intention behind it, it is fair game,” he says.

Halpern designs are sculpturesque, allowing for a constant illusion of movement as sequined fabrics drape those who wear them. Bold choices of color and texture give disco nostalgia a modern moment, such as in his Spring 2022 Collection when New York City Ballet dancers wore a mix of ready-to-wear and couture pieces crafted in crystals and leather. The Halpern Forte Beads bracelet is a similar exploration of fantasy and juxtaposition, following the thread of his self-expression being too explosive for just one medium.

Halpern FORTE Beads Bracelet

Shop the Halpern x FORTE Beads Bracelet

Describe your experience of designing a Forte Beads bracelet. How did you come to your design? Did you immediately know what beads you were drawn to, or did you have to think about it?

The way I work in my own practice is about contrast and oddities that colours can make in a group. This type of colour work is really natural and instinctual for me.  Being able to play with no set boundaries or guidelines was really fun!

Are these colors you typically use in your design practice? If so, is there ever a time when you deviate from this palette?

If someone knows my work, they will know there is no colour I stay away from.  For me, the true mix and juxtaposition of colour is what excites me. Whether it be jewel tones mixed with neutrals or brights mixed with pastels, as long as there is balance or intention behind it, it is fair game.

What memories, ideas, or feelings do these colors bring up for you?

So many of my references and design inspirations come from nostalgia; being able to bring a moment I have experienced, or a painting, or a film to life through the vehicle of a colour palette is something I find really exciting.

How do you anticipate others will feel when wearing your bracelet; what kinds of emotions and stories do you hope to evoke?

I want people to feel pure expression and outward joy when wearing this bracelet.  There is such an exciting and even unexpected mix of colours and materials in it that I think people will really respond to.


Where do colors show up in other parts of your life? In your home, garden, clothes, in books, movies, etc.? What are 'your' colors?

My home and everything in it is about colour, texture, and silhouette. Laying patterns on top of prints, on top of stripes, on top of bold solids, is the way I not only design my collections but also my life around me. Having layers of colour and texture under the super colourful floral arrangements that are always present in my home constantly keeps me excited by my surroundings.

michael halpern print and colour

What is a color you’ve never worked with before and why?

There is no colour I shy away from really. This is also an interesting question because I think about this a lot. If there ever is a colour I don’t find exciting or that has depth in an interesting way; I will in turn really try to use it and find a way to make it feel fresh and cool.

What are some sources of inspiration you look towards in your own design practice?

I always find this question a bit difficult to answer, because inspiration can hit at any time. Whether it be an exhibition or artist I have been looking at, a film I have rewatched from years ago, or someone I see when I am out at night; all of these things contribute to the ways in which I form my research boards.

What are the best and worst parts of working in fashion?

The best part of working in fashion for me is being able to see someone enjoying a piece of clothing that my team and I have been working on for so long. To see someone wear it in their own way, personalize it, make it theirs, is what is the most exciting. The worst part? I honestly can’t think of one!

How has the industry changed since you’ve been working? How do you think it will change in the post-pandemic future?

I think going forward it will be so much about emotional purchasing. Quality over quantity, and people will really cherish the things they choose to incorporate into their lives.

movement michael halpern

What is the most critical part of your daily routine? What is the most critical part of your creative routine?

Daily routine? Coffee and giving myself a moment in the mornings to reflect. Creative routine? Getting on the mannequin and having my hands entwined with the fabrics.

Tell us about a favorite piece of jewelry that you own. Where did you get it—was it a gift, a hand-me-down, a travel find? What makes it so special?

My sister and I found a pair of emerald and diamond Art Deco amulets from a dealer in London and we both wear one of them around our necks. It is very special for me knowing my sister and best friend – who lives in NYC – is mirroring me in some way while I am in London. It keeps us very connected.

behind the scenes on michael halpern photograph shoot

What’s one object in your home or prized possession you can’t live without and why?

I couldn’t live without all of my pictures. I have so many images, large scale, small scale, Polaroids, pictures in my phone…

Describe your ideal vacation. What are you wearing, where are you going and who would you take with you?

I am either on a beach wearing next to nothing or on the slopes snowboarding in the sun!

picture of Michael Halpern