At London Fashion Week, Michael Halpern paid tribute to ballet dancers under lockdown for his spring/summer 2022 collection

“I actually have a Chinese family,” says Michael Halpern, founder of his eponymous label known for sparkly disco-ready pieces with a dramatic flair. He was, after all, trained under Donatella Versace. Halpern is US-born, London-based, so most could never have guessed. “My father didn’t have siblings but was really close to his best friend who is Chinese so the friend’s family basically adopted him. So I have like, 20 Chinese cousins!”

Do they sometimes have a say in the direction of his designs? Halpern laughs. “My cousin is amazing, she is very opinionated and she’s always said I need to come to Hong Kong to see the textiles.”

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For his latest collection, Halpern opted out of the fashion show format. Instead, he made a film with ballerinas from the Royal Ballet dancing and twirling in his latest designs at the Royal Opera House. “There was a story over lockdown of ballerinas having to take pieces of the floorboards from the performance halls home to practice and that really moved me,” he says. “So I was inspired by this idea of restricted movement and I wanted to also pay homage to their discipline and art through the fashion film.”

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Perhaps one of his most abstract collections so far, there was a caged orb dress lined with sequins, encasing a ball of feathers. Elsewhere, tiers of tulle dusted in glitter fluttered as the ballerinas rose and dipped, and rainbow-tasselled dresses danced around the bodies. It was a collection made to move. 

And it seems people are ready to get up and dance again. Halpern’s fans hail from all over the globe, and he recently shipped an enormous creation to a client in Louisiana, USA. “It’s what makes me happiest, to see someone smile and feel confidence when they put on one of my dresses.”