Designer to Watch: Michael Cepress

Well-known for his dapper and tailored men’s wear designs, this talent is now doing women's wear.
Michael Cepress in his Capitol Hill studio with in-progress men’s designs and a cinched women’s dress (below right)

Michael Cepress wears many artistic hats: The Capitol Hill-based, 30-something designer is well-known for his dapper and tailored men’s wear designs, a sublime talent he juggles with costume design, teaching fashion courses at the University of Washington and curating fashion exhibitions. Now he’s adding women’s wear designer to his résumé.

After a two-year design hiatus, Cepress will make a grand re-entry this month with a capsule collection of women’s, men’s and unisex garments inspired by the hippie styles of the 1960s and ’70s. But the road from dandy to flower child is not as long as it might first seem. “What is so inspiring about the countercultural perspective of the 1960s is people were not only investigating their style, but themselves,” says Cepress, whose designs are ever rooted in cultural and historical perspectives. “Exploring this period has given me the freedom to expand upon traditional tailoring.”

The new collection maintains Cepress’ tailored hand in trim vests and neatly tucked pants, but then jaunts toward more flowing, mod styles with warm, earthy tones and rough textures. Bridging the gap between dresses and suits are his self-described “shape-shifters” creatively cut pieces that can be layered and styled differently by men and women, much like Japanese kimonos or South American unkus. “I think Seattle has just seen a sliver of what I can do,” he says. “I’ve still got another hat to throw in the ring.”

Available at michaelcepress.com

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