Friday 18th September

| BY Paul Toner

Halpern: Ready-to-Wear SS21

When the UK went into lockdown back in March, Michael Halpern was part of the legion of London-based designers who took matters into their own hands. Volunteering at a makeshift PPE factory, Halpern swapped out his traditional glistening eveningwear and 1970s-inspired party fashions for your everyday hospital scrubs.

It was here, masked-up and sat at the sewing machine, where the American designer decided he would dedicate his spring/summer 2021 collection to the heroines of the frontline. Casting eight fearless women from all sorts of professions – including a nurse, hospital cleaner and an obstetrician gynaecologist – the designer produced a film where each key worker is interviewed about their experiences during the pandemic.

“I wouldn’t say I’m a hero, I’m just a normal girl from Leyton,” says Latifah, a night tube driver on the Central Line. She wears a bulbous gown created from what appears to be thousands of plume feathers. Sarah, a domestic at Homerton University Hospital, spoke of the joy she felt as seriously ill Covid patients finally made it back to recovery and off the ward – all whilst sporting a hot-pink, zebra print housecoat with an OTT train.

The women’s tales are both moving and celebratory, and the clothes reflect that. From egg-shaped gowns splattered in polka dots to silky pyjama sets that dazzle in sequins – each key worker featured can’t help but gush over how amazing they feel in Halpern’s creations. But that’s what the designer does best. He holds the power to make his clientele feel not only glamorous but courageous, too. A designer of the people.

Directed by Minnie Carver.