Michelle Thomas Story

Michelle Thomas is a famous celebrity fashion stylist, custom tailor, and designer based in Downtown Los Angeles. Her unique designs have magnified the red carpets, iconic events, and even top fashion magazines available globally. Michelle has a great eye for detail and glamour, she not only creates but also alters high-end designer wear, ensuring that every outfit, is customized to perfection. Clothes designed by her are favorites among celebrities like Jenna Ortega, Erykah Badu, Kim Lee, Megan Fox, Machine Gun Kelly, and Jordan Jones. They consistently achieve spots in the limelight for their unique allure and outstanding craftsmanship. At her studio, Michelle creates stunning shoulder pieces, costumes, and a range of custom-fit clothing items that capture the gist of contemporary lifestyle and timeless elegance.

                        Please share with us your early life experiences that inspired your career?

It all started when I was a teenager and saw my mother turn a normal piece of fabric into a beautiful dress. She was a seamstress and always encouraged creativity in everyone. I guess that was the time when I also thought to give it a try and started making dresses for myself and customizing them. Then one fine day that really shifted my mindset towards being a fashion designer was when I made a dress for my friend for her prom. She absolutely loved the dress and felt confident in it. Fashion is not just about how you look in a dress but also how you feel in it. Seeing her enjoy her look satiated me to the core and helped me decide on my career path.
I studied and honed my skills to be able to work with the icons of the industry and customize dresses for celebrities for their red carpet events. I still get the same sense of satisfaction, or maybe even more, with every outfit I make that I felt while seeing my friend in that prom dress so many years ago. The pleasure and a sense of tranquillity are what made me choose this career path.

    What’s your proudest moment and what did you learn about yourself?

There are several memorable events that are very close to my heart. One particular event was when I had to customize a red carpet gown for a famous actress. She wanted her gown to stand out from the crowd and also reflect her personality. After many sketches, my team and I finally started making a subtle dress to embrace her elegance yet bold enough to make her stand out in the crowd. One day prior to the event, she called us in a panic and wanted to change the dress as it wasn’t “red carpet enough”. I understood her needs and preferences and worked hard with my team to personalize the dress. We also added intricate details and silhouettes. The next day, the actress tried the dress and was immensely satisfied with our work as it turned out to be exactly what she wanted.

What experiences in your career journey built your Self-trust and confidence in your gifts and abilities?

When I first started out, I worked hard to impress my clients and leave a footprint of my creativity with every piece. There was a time when I came across an upcoming signer who asked me to personalize his suit for his next awards. In my excitement, I accidentally mixed different colors and fabrics into the suit. This made the suit too extravagant. On the day of the fitting, my client came for the suit-fitting. When he wore the suit, it looked bolder and more vivid to his taste. The singer was humble and suggested his preferences and asked me to change the suit accordingly. We both laughed it out, and I made the changes just the way he wanted. The lesson I learned from this mistake is to have an open conversation and a deep understanding of your client’s preferences. Do not be afraid to ask questions, as it is only going to help you to be better and have more power in your art.

                                 What is the biggest misconception about being a fashion designer?

One of the biggest misconceptions about being a fashion designer is that fashion is only related to glamour, runways, and sketches. The truth is far different from this. I would like to share some of the important realities of being a fashion designer.
More than Creativity – People think that you need to be creative to be a fashion designer, which is true, but not entirely. Other than being creative, it is important that you have a sense of business, problem-solving skills, and some technical knowledge. It is so important to know the market trends and the changing preferences of your audience.
Sewing Skills – The sewing skills are definitely a plus to your existing set of skills, but it is completely fine if you do not possess them. Many artists work with pattern makers and sample makers that help them bring their ideas and designs to life.
The Runway – The runway events are very glamorous and attractive, but the reality of being a fashion designer is that not everyone works for them. Many designers work for celebrities and brands to design clothes for common people. It becomes extremely important for such designers to stay ahead of the trend and invent designs according to their customers’ tastes.

What’s the most challenging thing about penetrating the fashion industry and making a name for yourself?

As a Black woman in the fashion industry, my journey is filled with incredible opportunities and undeniable challenges. For a long time, the fashion industry has not always reflected the diversity we live in. I often felt like an outsider with limited role models and stylists who truly understood the expression of dressing black bodies and celebrating black beauty. Being a Black woman meant I just had to work extra and convince people to give a chance to my unique perspective. I had to fight extra hard against social stereotypes and showcase my ability to work with a varied client base and embrace various styles

What advice do you have for aspiring designers and stylists?

The world of fashion is very exciting and I welcome all the aspiring designers and stylists. From my experience, I would like to give some advice that might help them in their career.
Find your Niche – It is so important to know the niche you want to work in. The fashion industry is very vast, with multiple options to choose from. Do you want to work for casual wear, formal attire, or sustainability? Decide on your niche and start working on it to create your niche audience.
Gain Experience – Every profession in the world needs experience to grow and be successful. Join internships, Be a production assistant, be happy to fetch coffee or lunch, talk with established people, and work with like-minded people to gain knowledge, hands-on experience, and different opportunities.
Work on Business Skills – Apart from learning everything related to fashion, start learning about business such as marketing, sales, technical skills, and production costs. These things will help in developing your business and making appropriate decisions.


   What body of your work are you most proud of?

As a seamstress and designer working with celebrity clients is the work I am most proud of. I love making unique designs for celebrities as they know exactly what they want but also gives me the freedom to add my own designs and aesthetic.

   Who or what inspires your work?

The incredible team that I work with and the wonderful people I meet in my work and classes keep me motivated. It’s a constant reminder that these skills and talents are needed everywhere by everyone every day.

   What’s next for you?

My new book ” The Ultimate Fashion Sketch and Pattern Card Workbook”, is finally released and ready for purchase. The book is a simple design and pattern workbook with 400 fashion croquis, including templates for women, men, and plus-size fashion. What sets our book apart is the inclusion of pattern cards, sections for notes and measurements, measurement charts, and a fashion silhouette library so that designers can be organized and efficient.  Recently, I have also collaborated with Tatyana Ali to produce Baby Yam’s stunning heirloom-quality baby quilts to support Black and Indigenous birth workers.

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