Michelle C. Gibson talks design, balance, burnout & the future of fashion

MICHELLE C. GIBSON

Designer, Maryland

Why I love her: Her clothes are just so dang dreamy!
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Photo by Michelle C. Gibson

When was the first time you noticed that fashion was something someone created rather than just something you bought and put on?

The first time I flipped through the magical pages of Vogue, I noticed that fashion was something that was created versus just something that you buy and put on. At that moment as a teenager, I was drawn to this elite group known as the fashion industry: This group of genius creatives and artists who were silently responsible for sending beautiful images straight to my mailbox each month, and urging us readers to reimagine the possibilities of fashion, lifestyle, and beauty. Imagination and passion was triggered, and I knew then that I wanted to contribute to the conversation and be a part of that group.

What made you want to pursue design vocationally as opposed to it just being a hobby?

My granddad, “No matter what, no one can ever take away your education” and “If you’re going to be good at something, go all the way to the top.” The two pieces of advice that propelled me to attain a bachelor’s of arts in Fashion Merchandising, and take my passion from just being a hobby to a growing brand and business.

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Designer Michelle Gibson

What was your training in design?

While at Howard University, I took full advantage of every fashion design class offered. The class I am most grateful for, Sewing 101 Levels 1-3. There in that classroom I learned the fundamentals of garment construction and how to create a collection.

When you begin designing new garments, what is the starting point for you?

When I start designing new garments for a new collection, I start with three elements: nature, music, and emotion. From there, the garments evolve from pieces of cloth into visually expressing a passionate story. Colors, prints, and textures come next in the form of a mood board. Then I decide on the silhouettes needed and determine possible occasions, imaging who will wear it and how she will look as she walks and the different angles it can be photographed. Fabric is draped and manipulated into pattern pieces. Lastly, pencil and paper meet, and I sketch out the final designs and details.

From season to season, how do you keep yourself from burning out?

Practicing balance, discipline, and time management is a must to avoid burning out. Envisioning the full project from idea to execution, staying faithful to my religion, taking occasional travel breaks, sticking to a daily fitness routine, eating a vegan diet that is rich in nutrients, making new friends, being in good company with good people, having a genuine hardy laugh, listening to great music with resonating lyrics, watching inspiring documentaries, and scheduling frequent relaxation breaks are my secrets to staying energized.

The internet has changed the fashion industry in numerous ways. How have you utilized it and social media to get your work and your brand to a larger audience?

In exchange for a little effort and time, I attest that sharing valuable content through the internet and social media is the best tool for emerging brands to directly build a loyal and engaged following of customers literally all over the world for “free.” My favorite platform is Instagram, where every so many days I surprise my following with the latest behind-the-scenes views, announce upcoming events, share exciting news and collaborations, and launch new collections straight from my phone to theirs through virtual fashion shows utilizing square-by-square.

Fashion blogs and style bloggers are front row at Fashion Week, something that didn’t happen ten years ago. Ten years from now, what do you hope the fashion industry looks like/is headed?

I would love for the fashion industry to feel more respected, inclusive, and attainable, and to be continually used as a platform to provoke change. Still there are some stigmas for those choosing a career in the industry, as well as a few lingering issues including the overwhelming use of unpaid interns, the frightening obsession for underweight models, the misrepresentation of all races and ethnicities, the fabricated standards of beauty, the urgency for more sustainable fashion practices, the concern for working conditions and wages of garment workers local and abroad, and the economic impact of fast fashion knockoffs. A more inclusive industry past the interest of fashion blogs and style bloggers would open up dialogue and spark a movement towards true progression and change benefiting us all.

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Photo by Michelle C. Gibson

 

FAST FASHION FACTS

My aesthetic in five words: Sophistication mixed with contemporary fantasy.
My client is…an extraordinary woman on a mission to inspire others while pursuing her own dreams. She embraces personal style, self-expression, and takes full advantage of the moments when she confidently walks into the world’s spotlight.
My dream client is…My two dream celebrities to design for are Rihanna & Beyoncé, both CFDA Fashion Icons, forward thinkers, innovative creators, business women, and talented beyond measure with inspiring stories of growth transcending decades; true living legends.

For more on Michelle and to purchase her designs, head to www.michellecgibson.com!

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