Michael began his career in the workshops of Anderson & Sheppard, one of the grand houses of British bespoke tailoring, on London’s Savile Row. After learning how to make a suit - tutored by the Master Tailor - Michael was promoted to the revered cutting room, an honor given to very few. This move made Michael the youngest ever trainee cutter in the long history of the ‘Row’. The news reached Robert Valentine, flamboyant owner of a competing establishment, whose business attracted a younger, more fashionable clientele. He offered Michael a job and with it the chance to have his own clients. Adapting to the different cutting and styling techniques, Michael was soon ready for his very first customer, who turned out to be revolutionary hair-cutter Vidal Sassoon.
During that period, London was changing and challenging, with Carnaby Street and Kings Road the places to be. Designers Mary Quant, Ossie Clarke and Barbara Hulanicki of Biba were breaking with all traditions, together with photographers like Bailey, models Twiggy and Shrimpton, and hairdresser VIdal Sassoon. Michael was quietly making personal clothes for the rich and successful young people of the era, and designing film wardrobes for movie stars. He eventually made the decision to open his own atelier, in partnership with Sassoon. It was located in Carlos Place, Mayfair and became “the” place to get hand-made, fashionably-designed clothes made to measure.
As Michael’s reputation grew so did his clientele and his influence on the developing designer market. He was one of the drivers of the patched-jeans fashion trend culminating in the creation of a tailcoat made from six pairs of worn American jeans for London Symphony Orchestra conductor, André Previn. He was designing and making clothes for leaders in many areas, from actors and rock stars to merchant bankers and royalty. His high profile image and creative ideas brought international corporations seeking design consultancy. One of these was tobacco giant Philip Morris, who asked Michael to create a clothing collection for its world-famous Marlboro’ brand. Following its successful launch he was invited by ex-Formula One racing driver Andrea de Adamich to join him in building a Marlboro’ Leisurewear company based in Milan, Italy... and thus began the Italian adventure.
Michael became Creative Director and Head of Design for the line and commissioned up and coming star Giorgio Armani to design two collections for the company. Together with his Italian partners, he also set up a company to design and manufacture for other brands well known in the racing world - Renault, Alfa Romeo and Fina, in addition to Gucci, Etienne Aigner and Playboy. Having established Marlboro’ in Europe, Michael moved to Miami to coordinate its development in South America. Whilst in the US he also set up an American operation for a Colombian company making designer jeans.
These experiences combined to make Michael more than a fashion designer. He had by now acquired a strong knowledge of marketing and this led him back to Italy, where he opened a full service design & marketing company called International Labels in partnership with the owner of an Italian advertising company. This company worked for global brands such as Japanese fashion giant Renown, and on projects through the Mitsui trading company, initiating a life-long relationship with Japan. Upon request of several customers he opened his own company, Insolito, working with clients on a 360° basis - from logo- design, graphics and marketing to product design and development, thus marking a further stage in his professional growth.
Insolito began working with iconic swimwear brand Speedo, by setting up the Speedo International Design Group, its creative centre based in Milan. SIDG designed and coordinated the Speedo collection and corporate image on a global basis. It was from here the the first FastSuit designs emerged and confirmed the dominance of Speedo as the market leader in performance swimwear. Another major client was Seibu Department Stores of Japan, for whom Michael and his team designed and coordinated the entire own-brand menswear product line from top to toe. Next came a project to design a merchandising strategy for a new department store concept opening in Japan called Z-Side. Insolito designed the seven floor layout from food to books, taking in the designer floors, linens and home decor.
Dupont (later Invista), the makers of Lycra, approached Michael when they learned that the menswear sector was beginning to request fabrics that could stretch. Michael, together with Dupont’s project manager embarked upon an awareness campaign for Lycra in outerwear; Prada was taking the same direction. He worked firstly with the Italian mills in Biella then with leading designers which led to marketing campaigns in partnership with Hugo Boss, Gianni Versace and Gianfranco Ferré. The project developed further in collaboration with Giorgio Armani, using Lycra in his menswear, kids and jeans lines. Michael handled several projects with Lycra including the image coordination for the Lycra Rendezvous global innovation meeting in Monte Carlo. By this time Insolito had a full art department, designing prints for fashion, swimwear and intimate apparel and special collections for several print houses and converters, and the company decided purchase Solaris, a fabric converter, in partnership with Itam, the stretch fabric leader at that time.
Working with Speedo USA, Michael designed Olympic Games product lines and swimwear for the American national swim team. He is particularly proud of the innovative and highly successful animal goggles for kids! From the company studio in Santa Monica, Michael’s son Julian coordinated design and marketing projects together with the Insolito staff in Milan and London. For many years, most of the best selling products worn by champions and sold by Speedo were designed by Insolito.
The company was by now creating designs at all levels and across a wide range of product categories. Next came the O Collection, a high-fashion designer collection, designed and made in Italy using the finest fabrics and production methods. This collection was sold in retail stores in Paris and London. Michael was concurrently lecturing at design schools in Tokyo, Milan and London, developing color trends for Intercolor and writing articles for international trend magazines.
In 2005, Michael opened a new studio, Venticinque Italia, to focus on the importance that design innovation and creativity can have on building a business. His tight creative group develops new strategical plans and solutions for companies that are either launching new lines or revitalizing existing brands. The company comprises Studio 25 for fashion product design, Agency 25 for marketing and graphic design and XXV Concepts for creative and strategic planning. In Milan, Venticinque works closely with Best & Finest media buying specialists and in Tokyo they are in partnership with Ados International marketing consultants. Clients include Lenovo, the Chinese ‘Think Pad’ computer producer, NoSo, the heat bonding garment construction technology brand, Splendy the microfibre robe company and a new concept project for Calvin Klein swimwear.