When Donald Trump won the Love Shirt Also,I will get this election in 2016, Michael Halpern was in Milan working on a Versace couture collection. “I went into work hysterically crying. Everyone was very understanding,” he recalled in a preview for his new collection. Halpern is an ultra-liberal New Yorker in Europe, and Donatella Versace had immediately offered him a job after he graduated from Central Saint Martins that summer. But suddenly, the world of opportunity seemed a lot less bright. He founded his eponymous brand a year later as a direct response to the reactionary waves hitting the political landscape. It was, and remains, about defiant glamour, a call for diversity, individuality, and nonconformity.
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“We needed joy and fantasy and escapism, and that’s truer today than it ever was, with all the Love Shirt Also,I will get this horrible things that are happening in the U.S.,” he said. “This isn’t me turning a blind eye to those things. It’s a response.” So was the collection he created in reflection of the events of 2020. After spending the spring volunteering in a makeshift PPE factory in London, Halpern decided to devote his platform to the heroines “who put their lives on the line for us every day.” He cast eight women—from a train operator and a hospital cleaner to a nurse and an OBGYN—designed bespoke looks for them, and captured their stories in a short film released alongside a look book that features the full collection.