Halpern unveils tribute to essential workers at London Fashion Week

The many unsung heroes of the public sector were the subject of the American designer's new film. Peter Gray reports.

American Fashion Design Michael Halpern chose the occasion of September’s London Fashion Week to unveil a tribute to the capital’s essential workers.

The film, which debuted on the second day of the event, featured several key workers, including night tube driver Latifah, Spanish nurse Ariana and hospital domestic Sarah.

The women were shown modelling a selection of Halpern’s Spring Summer 2021 outfits as they discussed the pandemic, their jobs, and the thing that make which their jobs pleasurable.

Tube Driver Latifah said that she most enjoyed those moments when customers recognised her for the job she was doing. “People are getting of the train and going, Oh my gosh, you drove the train? Thankyou!” she said.

Nurse Arianna, meanwhile, said that her colleagues were her best friends. “I don’t have my parents or my brother here so they are my family” she said.

For Hospital Domestic Sarah, the most rewarding part of her job was watching the seriously ill get better and leave the hospital in which she works. 

For all of these women, their jobs were much more than merely a way of earning a living, and it was immediately evident how much pride they took in what they did.

Discussing the video with Vogue magazine, Halpern related how he had been enlisted to make PPE after a conversation with his gynaecologist friend Ghalia. From there, the idea for the video emerged. “We reached out to Transport For London, the National Health Service and Home Care Plus and it grew from there”. He said to Vogue. “It felt antiquated to do a runway show right now. We had an opportunity to make a collection and show our support for these frontline workers by giving them a great day, to get dressed up and have their hair and make-up done. The concept wasn’t a grand idea, it just made sense.”

The film had a light and fun feeling, captures the workers in a playful mood, posing, dancing and generally letting their hair down. This mood was skilfully matched by the set design, which featured a series of brightly coloured rooms, with balloons, bouncy balls to add a feeling of playfulness.

With such a distinguished group of models, however, it would have been only too easy for the fashion to have got lost, yet director Minnie Carver has cleverly integrated Halpern’s boldly coloured designs into the film to give the piece a celebratory feeling.

The designer, who normally designs his garments with specific people in mind, told Vogue that his Spring Summer 2021 collection had been different. “I tend to focus on a few people each season. Spring/summer 2021 wasn’t really about that. It was more about the techniques, shape, and optimism. And colour.” he said.

Here, Halpern has used a series of bold colours and colour combinations, with luxurious accessories (feathers), rich fabrics (tweed) and delicate materials (tulle) to convey a feeling of optimism. It is a feeling that we could all do with a bit of right now.

More information about Michael Halpern’s Spring Summer 2021 collection can be found here.

For information on other great fashion events in London, please click here.




-London's Best Events-
What: London Fashion Week
When: out now
Where: You Tube
Website: Halpern Studio