B Michael, a fashion designer based in New York, has been quietly building his brand since the late 1980s. Despite not achieving the same level of recognition as his contemporaries Michael Kors and Donna Karan, B Michael has established a reputation for his made-to-order pieces, catering to clients like Beyoncé, Halle Berry, and Whitney Houston. His designs have gained attention for their modern elegance, with some pieces becoming iconic, such as the floppy hat worn by the late Cicely Tyson at Aretha Franklin’s funeral. B Michael’s friendship with Tyson is the subject of his new book, “Muse: Cicely Tyson and Me: A Relationship Forged in Fashion.”
A Version of Haute Couture
B Michael describes his work as a form of haute couture, although technically only fashion houses authorized by the French Ministry of Industry can use this term. He creates a full collection of sample garments and then works closely with his private clients to build muslins and conduct multiple fittings. As a Black designer specializing in this type of clothing, B Michael has attracted Black customers who have the means to buy couture but may not have had access to it otherwise. Phylicia Rashad, the actress, has been a client since 2015 and praises B Michael’s work ethic and design process.
Dawn Davis, a publisher at Simon & Schuster, has been wearing B Michael clothes for two decades, describing them as investment pieces. Although she does not disclose the cost, she believes the items are worth the investment when considering their longevity. B Michael’s clientele also includes women who wear Chanel, Valentino, and Dior, indicating his ability to compete with luxury fashion brands.
Maintaining a Business in a Competitive Industry
Peter Arnold, the executive director of the Fashion Scholarship Fund, notes that B Michael’s ability to maintain his business in an industry notorious for its challenges speaks to his personal appeal and the distinctiveness of his designs. Tracy Reese, another Black designer, acknowledges that B Michael has built a lucrative career that often goes unnoticed due to his focus on custom work and red carpet designs.
Staying True to His Vision
B Michael attributes his success to staying focused and authentic to his point of view. Born and raised in Connecticut, he started his career making hats for renowned designers like Oscar de la Renta and Louis Féraud. Despite facing challenges as a Black American designer in the high-end luxury market, he persevered and eventually transitioned to clothing. He runs his business with his husband, Mark-Anthony Edwards, who handles the business side while B Michael focuses on design.
B Michael is planning to expand his brand into e-commerce and develop a ready-to-wear line inspired by his made-to-measure pieces. He aims to maintain the quality and attention to detail that define his brand while making it more accessible to a wider audience. As he reflects on his career, his goal is to establish a legacy as a Black American designer and ensure the success of his business.
In conclusion, B Michael has quietly built a successful fashion brand over the past few decades, catering to a discerning clientele with his made-to-order pieces. Despite not achieving widespread recognition, his work has gained attention for its modern elegance and has been worn by notable figures in the entertainment industry. B Michael’s ability to maintain his business in a competitive industry and his commitment to staying true to his vision have contributed to his longevity. With plans to expand into e-commerce and develop a ready-to-wear line, he aims to establish a lasting legacy as a Black American designer.
Original Story at www.nytimes.com – 2024-02-13 05:31:28