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Friday, 09 August 2013

Michael Schmidt a visionary designer of our time. Text By Aradna Sharma.

Dear Shaded Viewers,

Michael Schmidt, an Emmy nominated costume designer (1991 Costume Design for a Variety or Music program), is also an interior and jewelry designer. He has wowed the world many times with his brilliant creations using variety of innovative materials and techniques. Schmidt does it again. This time it is with the 3D printed dress, made entirely with powdered rubber with collaboration with New York based talented young architect/ designer Francis Bitonti.

I wanted to speak to Michael Schmidt and visit his studios. When I contacted him about it, Schmidt graciously invited me to come to his studios in Los Angeles. As I walked into his Los Angeles studios with his secretary Victoria, I was immediately taken aback with the gorgeous dress that was on display. This was the same 3D printed gown Dita Von Teese modeled, the same gown which has over a billion hits on the internet. It was surreal.

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Michael Schmidt walks in a few minutes later. I noticed that he is tall, he has a leather biker jacket on, stacks of silver bracelets and rings from his own collection on his wrists and fingers, chain metal hangs from his waist on the side of his hip. He looks fashionable, chic, artistic, edgy, very California cool. I can’t help but notice how humble and real Schmidt is. Not an ounce of arrogance in his demeanor, he is down to earth and very easy to talk to. Michael showed me around his studio.Natural lights flows in from the huge windows, bright space where insane amount of genius creativity flows.There is a table, on top of which showcased is his unique jewelry collection in varieties of metal mesh, Swarovski crystals.There are multiple tables with the works of art in progress. A dream place for anyone with appreciation for art and creation.

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Here is the conversation with Designer and Artist Michael Schmidt

- Who have been your major influences?

Of course, my influences extend from the mostly nameless créateurs forging the life-saving chain-maille armor of the 13th century and beyond, to a not-so-different master of the 20th century, Paco Rabanne. As a child in the 70's I was mesmerized by Bob Mackie's creations for Cher and Carol Burnett which informed my notions of how glamorous a woman could be. Later, as a teen in Kansas City, I had a close friend named Nickey who would create all sorts of wonderful garments from repurposed clothing, fabrics and notions. I would sit and watch him endlessly sewing buttons, leather, sequins, etc. into completely new and wonderfully wearable pieces. Nick Cave is now a world-famous sculptor known for his astonishing Soundsuits, coveted by collectors and museums, but when we were teens he influenced me greatly to challenge my ideas of what a great garment could be and what it could be created from.

- How do you approach a project when given a space such as the Palladium nightclub in NYC or a lobby of a famous hotel?

Whether one inhabits an article of clothing, an automobile, an interior space or even a city, it's all adornment to me; just a different scale. Our clothing, the spaces in which we live, the hotels we opt to stay in, the nightclubs we favor...these are choices we make largely based on aesthetic reasoning. For myself, designing any item, whether it's clothing or jewelry or an interior space, is my attempt to understand and glorify the intended inhabitant's deeply personal sense of self.

-Your Cutting edge clothes and gowns for famous clients include Madonna,Lady Gaga and Steven Tyler often transcend what is thought to be possible such as a gown made of razor blades-what are wells of inspiration that you draw from?

I don't work seasonally like most designers do who need to appeal to a broad clientele. I'm instead inspired by the individual I'm creating for and the circumstances in which they will appear. Stage, camera, photoshoot, music videos and film all have different parameters which must be considered. Also, it is my intent to embelish the persona of the individual, not to impose my own 'style' upon them. Each endeavor is different, which is one of things I most enjoy about my work. Additionally, I am inspired by the challenge of transforming materials which are perhaps unconventional and rendering them to the body. There's a sort of alchemy there which I find pleasing.

- Of all the accolades that you have received, which one means the most to you?

I'm truly not searching for accolades; infact I prefer to remain in the backgorund and allow the entertainers I design for to shoulder the burden of the media attention. I am, however, flattered if people find my work entertaining or are inspired to see the people I design for in new and unexpected ways.

- Your collaborative creation of the world's first fully articulated 3D printed dress with Francis Bitonti has literally created a new dimension for the fashion industry. The senuality and futuristic elements combined with Dita Von Teese have captivated the world's imagination. Do you plan to pursue further projects in this new area?

Absolutely. I'm currently collaborating with Francis on a collection of jewelry exploiting a number of new developments in printable materials and finishes. I'm also continuing to explore the ways in which 3D printing and other developing technologies will help me to create lavish and innovative designs for the entertainers I work with. As a medium for creating forms which could not be realized in any other way, 3D printing is an exciting tool for a designer. New materials and finishes are being advanced every day and fashion, like technology, is forever in pursuit of innovation. This makes them an ideally suited pairing.

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- Tell us more about your jewelry collection.

My studio currently produces a collection of jewelry utilizing many of the unusual materials and techniques we use for our entertainment industry clientele such as metal- and Swarovski crystal- meshes. We are now in the development phases of our new collection which will be unique in that it will include pieces produced by a variety of 3D printing techniques but rendered in precious metals and stones.

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- When people say Michael Schmidt, what would you like them to think?

Despite how it may appear, I am not interested in famous people. I am interested in talented people, and I'm grateful that my career has afforded me many opportunities to work with a wide spectrum of extraordinary performers. I hope I have served to contribute in some small way to the legacies of these gifted artists, or perhaps to have inspired the next generation of design pioneers.

It was such a pleasure to meet  Michael Schmidt, a creative genius. A humble man.

Aradna Sharma

Photos by Albert Sanchez, Aradna Sharma, Roman Krajewski and Angelina Ciulik. 

Posted by Aradna Sharma at 06:48 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Amazing work Aradna! Loved the article...looking forward to more of these... they are going on my wall asap... ♥

Posted by: Laxmi Sherpa | Jan 14, 2014 11:33:20 PM

Keep up the good work. Through your interviews we are being introduced to these talented artists and their visions.

Posted by: sharada bhandary | Aug 12, 2013 10:11:28 PM

what a wonderful eye openener interview!!! loved it.. and learnt a lot . Congratulations and keep up the good job !!

Posted by: soma pant | Aug 10, 2013 3:54:29 AM

As usual, nice one!
Very happy for you! Keep it up!

Posted by: amrita | Aug 9, 2013 10:49:42 PM

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