Creative Manager, Stylist, Designer and Splash TV regular Michelle Jackson has become an expert at juggling her many passions and responsibilities – and manages to do it all with effortless style. She takes time out of her busy schedule for a little behind-the-scenes chat.
1. How did you get into fashion?
I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer since I was six years old, and used to make clothes with my mum. At school, I was only interested in creative subjects – I loved art class and could never get into maths.
I did my foundation year at the London College of Fashion, and then continued studying fashion at Southampton University before interning at various companies specialising in lingerie and swimwear. I was even fortunate enough to intern (and later work) with Vivienne Westwood’s son, which was very exciting. However, I soon got tired of the English weather and decided to experience the other extreme, the heat of Dubai.
Moving to Splash was purely by chance. I met Splash CEO Raza Beig at a party and we got talking about fashion, which led to an interview. I started as a fashion designer at Splash and soon became part of the team that works on the Fashion Show, which is now one of the biggest events in the region.
2. Who are your influences as a designer?
My inspiration at the moment is Mary Katrantzou, a Greek-born designer who lives in London. She creates incredible shapes and crazy illusory prints – based on the art of trompe d’oeil. However, Dolce & Gabbana remains my favourite classic influence.
3. So what’s hot at the moment?
Vintage scarf prints are hot right now, as are underwater prints and colours. And – especially in this region – bling is always in fashion.
4. How do you stay ahead of the game so that your designs look fresh?
As a designer, I always think of the next thing coming along. If there’s a trend on at the moment, I try to think of what it might turn into. I always need to do lots of research.
Also, celebrity style is a big source of inspiration. Most designers look to famous people and their stylists for fashion guidance, and not the other way around.
5. Are there any constraints or limits on your designs?
Being in the Middle East, we have to be mindful of cultural constraints when designing. We cater to locals and expats at Splash, and have different ranges for each. When designing for Arab women, we make sure we think about how they can stay fashionable without being too risqué. For example, we’ll pair a suitable long-sleeved undergarment with a stylish t-shirt. Being respectful of local customs while staying at the leading edge of fashion is challenging, but also pushes us to be even more creative.
6. What’s your own personal style, and how does it compare to Splash designs?
I love mixing things up, and being experimental beyond what’s hot on the runways. I tend to mix-and-match relatively plain, off-the-rack clothes in interesting ways, and dress them up with accessories. I love huge rings, bracelets, necklaces, lots of stones and gold – you’ll seldom see me without at least one of them.
7. If you weren’t a designer, what would you do?
Maybe something athletic, which is the other thing I was good at in school. And since being at Splash, I’ve discovered that I love being in front of the camera, so a presenter maybe.
8. What’s the best part of your job?
The day of the Fashion Show, for sure (and the week of recovering from it, too). The Splash Fashion Show is when everything we’ve worked towards for 6-8 months comes together. It‘s stressful yet tremendously exciting. That feeling of achievement is a big motivator.
When we started the fashion shows in 2008, about 600 people attended. At the SS'12 show 16,000 people came along, the sense of achievement was great for the entire team.
9. Which part of your job is the most challenging?
Trying to outdo what we’ve just done. “What is Splash going to do next?” is the question we get asked most often. We try to raise the bar each time, which is harder as the bar keeps getting higher. Look out for our next show.
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