Each season Paris Fashion Week is sure to bring three things, heart-stopping set design from the Chanel fashion show, street style ‘gazelles’ preening for the camera in the Tulluries Garden outside the Louvre, and dazzling costume changes by Francophile fashion icon Michelle Elie.
Michelle Elie’s style is thought-provoking, outrageous and fun. She is most known for wearing Comme des Garçons straight from the runway. The Hatian-born, New York reared, Germany-based socialite is one of the most photographed showgoers during Paris Fashion Week, and, she is a top pick by fashion designers to sit front row.
If you ask Michelle Elie for personal style advice she’d tell you to always buy against the trends because they never last. And to dress to your personality and never compromise it.
At first glance Michelle Elie can appear bombarded by the designs she wears, lost inside the volume and distorted shapes. But this maybe intentional. The former model often challenges societal beauty norms and could arguably be called a fashion non-conformist.
“I am all about pushing the boundaries and reaching beyond your limits”
In fact she frequently targets models of color during fashion week shooting candid backstage videos to celebrate their beauty. Fashion still has a diversity problem and within the industry Black women are particularly vulnerable to the dominate effects of European standards of beauty, because these standards emphasize skin color and hair type where the beauty polarity of “whiteness” is “blackness” .
And while Elie has been mum regarding her time as a model, one can assume her stories are similar to other models of color who’ve expressed being denigrated when compared to their white peers.
Regardless to why Michelle Elie dresses as she does one thing to appreciate is her consistency. While many street style desperadoes come to fashion week to be photographed, Michelle Elie is known to maintain the same style through-out the year stating she wears Junya Watanabe “for fabulous, everyday running around” clothing. (Michelle Elie, Interview in Vogue, 2018)
Most of the designers Michelle Elie prefers are purists and extremists. Purists in terms of aesthetic, purists in their textile selection, and extremist in terms of their designs. After the Viktor & Rolf Spring 2019 Haute Couture collection which featured monstrous volumes of pastel tulle with internet meme slogans written across the front Michelle Elie shared she could easily see herself wearing such gowns. She explained, for her, the bold collection reflects our time and the events around the world. The “MEMES“ on these dresses also reflect our emotions and mindset. They act as a visual metaphor for the noises in our heads.
It could be Michelle Elie chases the poetry about these pieces, or maybe she wants to expand our definition of beauty and art. Whatever her motivations, and whether you appreciate her style or not, you cannot stop looking at her.