Halpern has become known for putting on some of the most exciting, electrifying runways during London Fashion Week. Like many others this season, U.K.-based American designer Michael Halpern is skipping the traditional catwalk — but what he decided to do instead is no less creative and, arguably, even more stunning.
Halpern cast eight female frontline workers in the U.K., from across the public service sectors, creating two spring looks for each of them to wear. The women then model in the lookbook and appear in a video where they talk about their jobs and what it’s been like to work throughout the pandemic.
“To me, times of re-emergence call for pure creation: the most uplifting feeling I can think of,” Halpern, said in a statement. “I didn’t design this collection with cocktail parties or ballrooms in mind, but purely from the desire to capture in dressmaking the individuality embodied by savoir-faire, and the joy it brings to those who wear it. This collection was created in celebration of the women on the frontline, and for anyone it may inspire and uplift.”
In an interview with Vogue, Halpern explained how it started with Ghalia, an obstetrics and gynecology surgeon in London and a close friend of his, who told him about volunteer opportunities amid the Covid-19 crisis; then, he met Caroline, a volunteer organizer, when he started making PPE at a hospital. Once he realized that a runway wouldn’t really make sense for him and his brand, he reached out to Transport For London, the National Health Service and Home Care Plus to complete the cast that would appear in his Spring 2021 lookbook, alongside Ghalia and Caroline.
These spring designs are joyous, colorful and undoubtedly fabulous — with leopard jacquards, rich emerald fabrics, elegant tweed and impressive craftsmanship (plenty of hand-molded crystal plissé, ombré feathers and tulle work). Halpern told Vogue that this season “was more about the techniques, shape and optimism. And color — I’d never normally put forest green with bright red, but somehow it works.”
See the full Halpern Spring 2021 collection in the gallery, below.