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Michael Angel Womenswear S/S10

Inspired by old school Dior, Angel mixed sculptural shapes with his signature digital prints.

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!