Sexy, Wearable and Captivating Apparel Found in Southampton
Just like a lot of us, Michelle Farmer spent young days in her grandmother’s attic playing amongst antique trunks bursting with vintage garments. She would turn 40s-era luxury wear into her own creations, developing a passion for all things design and fashion. It was that time which gave Farmer the spirit of a designer, re-designer, and curator.
From jewelry buying in the French West Indies to repurposing fine jewelry in East Hampton, Farmer turned her skills and experiences into the base of her eponymous collection. She now runs and curates Michelle Farmer Collaborate, where she fills racks and shelves with unique pieces by lesser-known designers. Farmer bookends her brick-and-mortar venture thus far with two locations out East: the original showroom on Newton Lane and her newest retail collaborate at 10A Jobs Lane in Southampton.
You have such a wide palate when it comes to design. What is your favorite category to work on?
Gowns and resort. I love gorgeous fabrics and draping. Our designs are all about the fabric, flow, color, and fit — very feminine and timeless. It’s also about the bespoke quality; a lot of the gowns are custom-made for our clients, and it’s fun to work one-on- one with a customer and create that special piece just for them.
I had traveled my entire life to resort destinations and lived in places like the Philippines and Taiwan and was always so excited when I would find what was unique and special. I did a business plan in 2006 to open stores in resort locations where I could one day launch my own collection and also put together a beautifully curated collection of hard-to-find luxe resort wear, evening, and accessory designers. It was all about creating something beautiful and unique and helping other designers like myself find a space to have their brands showcased.
The Collaborate is a combination of your own label and that of other designers. How do you decide which designers to work with and feature in your boutiques?
Our designers come from all over the world. For the most part they are either American designers or they are from Europe and launching in the U.S. for the first time.
We seek out those who have their own voice and uniqueness with beautiful fabrics and designs. Our customers do not want to see themselves coming and going. If the designer is on Shopbop or in major department stores we are pretty much not interested.
We just opened [in April] in Southampton, New York. It’s a dream location because a lot of our Palm Beach, New York, and Greenwich customers live there. We are super excited and I know it’s going to be a great season!
As much of the Hamptons has been taken over by chain brands, it’s a real pleasure as a local resident and individual designer to have a presence here.
Can you give us a taste of what we can find there?
Julianna Bass is a Brooklyn- based designer who launched in the past few years with limited edition pieces and gorgeous evening wear. Tatjana Anika is a French resort designer with a beautiful feminine vibe. Maryley Denim is an Italian denim brand, and we’re the only people in the country that carry them — they customize it for us, and it flies off the shelves. I.D. Sarrieri is a London-based designer with exquisite swimsuits, lingerie, and evening lines.
Walk us through the Michelle Farmer shopping experience?
We treat the experience as if we have invited you into our home. The environment is beautiful, light, airy with
a pop of gorgeous color and fabrics. Customers are warmly welcomed, champagne is flowing, and everyone is encouraged to relax, enjoy, and have fun. It’s all about the customer, creating an exceptional experience, and making long-term connections. We are not about the hard sell.
Along with buying off the rack, clients can have bespoke pieces created; anything with our label can be customized. There are tons of swatches to choose from.
We create bespoke pieces, luxurious resort wear, swim, evening, and fine jewelry. We only work with fabrics such as silk, linen, cotton, and cashmere. Our pieces are timeless, with beautiful pops of color and gorgeous textures. We are moving into accessories and home soon as well.
You are clearly passionate about the power of the accessory. What do you hope your eponymous jewelry can do for your customers?
The right piece of jewelry is the one that does not sit lonely in your safe. I love pieces that can be paired with jeans and a tee to a gown at night. The right piece of jewelry transforms the outfit but does not overwhelm the wearer.
What does your go-to Hamptons weekend outfit look like?
The crisp cotton stripe Camille top and a pair of white Maryley jeans.
What inspires you most about the Hamptons?
There is a rich history of creativity in the Hamptons inspired by the color, the light, and the energy from the ocean.
You began with jewelry and then expanded into ready to wear and bespoke. What’s next for the brand?
In 2019 we have plans to expand into Greenwich and possibly Dallas, along with adding more to our home collection.
Help us build the perfect Sunday outfit, taking us from brunch in town to happy hour at the beach club.
The perfect lunch outfit would be our linen pant paired with a silk Helenita tank during the day. For night, add a wedge, an Allison Mitchell clutch, a beautiful lightweight cashmere wrap, and a pair of Hari Jewels diamond earrings.