There's much to be said about the recent rise of digital prints employed by designers either as a one-season trick to play around with or a signature that can take many different courses due to the nature of the craft. Michael Angel, Australian-born, New York-based designer has been blaring out the trumpets for digital prints and manual art on garments for five seasons now, since his debut in spring/summer 2008. This season though, Angel took his prints to another level, where silhouette was a key defining factor. Along the way he was guided by Tamara de Lempicka paintings, Nancy Cunnard and Dior eras of both Christian and Marc Bohan. And so ensued a series of tight and short dresses concentrating on the torso with saturated prints that seem to explode from the bodice, and then accessorised with a smattering of gems and printed ankle booties courtesy of Manolo Blahnik. After the show, Dazed Digital spoke to Angel about the digital onslaught and why he had to make a shape statement this season.
Dazed Digital: You've been championing prints now for quite a few seasons. What do you think about the recent rise of digital prints?
Michael Angel: The problem I was sitting back a bit after I first came up with my digital prints (five seasons ago) and I wanted to showcase craftsmanship. It's really great to see other designers and you should never hate on anyone and because everyone is doing their own thing. I really wanted to showcase why I started my digital prints in the first place and why I think it's me and why I've created that digital stamp to say that digital print is me. And really, I never wanted to just put a print on a dress but I wanted to make the dress worthy of the print. There's a big difference.
DD: How did you develop those more sculptural shapes
Michael Angel: I really looked into New Look Dior and also looked into Marc Bohan's Dior. I took a little bit of both Dior phases, a little bit of Schiaparelli, a little bit of Lempicka. Instead of replicating shapes that already exist, I introduced fabrics like neoprene and fabrics that are more contemporary and that makes it a bit more exciting. How I work is I print a panel, and then what I do is cut the shape so that the print informs the shape. I wanted to show that I love doing prints but I also for people to know that I'm not just someone who puts a print on the leggings.
DD: How did the collaboration with Manolo Blahnik for the shoes happen?
Michael Angel: Manolo did my shoe for the first time. I'd never done a shoe before! Who better to work with than the genius. I wanted someone who was old-school and someone who was reputable. I wanted it to be serious and I didn't want it to be trendy. It was such a great thing to do and something I hope to continue.
DD: How do you feel you sit in amongst other Australian designers?
Michael Angel: I'll be completely honest with you. My label was always created in New York. All the inspiration, all the energy, all the creativity comes from this place. I mean, Australia is where I'm from but I've lived in New York for seven years now. I really wanted to challenge the sportswear category in America. Let's push the whole sportswear boundaries.
DD: Surely you've pushed the boundaries beyond sportswear?!
Michael Angel: We're talking couture now!