Q&A: Michelle Rene Lateste

When I missed the fashion show at the Art Institute last month, I made arrangements to meet with the designers personally. I was able to catch them after the storm, and it made for some delightful conversations about clothes.

Michelle's designs grabbed my attention almost instantaneously. Her technique was everything but amateur, and I kept craving more. She called her senior collection "Rene Couture," and incorporated architecture, femininity, draping, and unique touches of antique buttons from Paris.

Darrah: I noticed you had a plethora of different fabric choices featured at the show. How did you select them?

Michelle: I am inspired by fabrics and how they feel. It's a challenge picking the right colors and fabrics, but I went to Nancy's Sewing Basket, collected, recycled, and picked up some buttons from Paris to add character.

Darrah: Paris?

Michelle: When I was studying abroad in Paris, I was able to bring back beautiful silks and brocades to try my techniques of draping and sculpting.

Darrah: What techniques can we see in this collection?

Michelle: Well, my collection was based on a variety of techniques. I found inspiration for these techniques in many different places. I was inspired by design dating back centuries when draping and small pleating was used to create beautiful sculptural designs. My triangle skirt was ridged and angular. My bubble skirt was full and used box pleats to create a structural appearance. The draped skirt was designed to see what a pleated texture would look like fitting closer to the body. Finally, my skirt with draped panels was designed to create structure with movement.

Darrah: When I posted videos from the AIS fashion show, a few of my readers made comments about your designs looking very similar to those of Project Runway winner, Leanne Marshall. What do you think?

Michelle: I have received comments that one of my skirts reminds people of Leanne's skirt, but this was a student show and I felt like it was okay to try out new techniques and trends to challenge my construction and design skills. These designs are not for sale.

Darrah: Do you plan on selling your designs in the future?

Michelle: I am planning on having my own boutique in the future. For now, I sell some pieces through the Finerie in Seattle.

Darrah: Have you showcased your work on other platforms?

I showed some pieces at the Finerie's 2nd Annual Fashion Event last month. A few days later, I showed a 4-piece collection for Lux 5 at EMP. They had a Bliss Empire Fashion Preview shown in three segments alongside a luxury exotic car showcase.

Darrah: If you didn't have a budget, what type of clothing would you design?

Michelle: Evening and/or separates.

Darrah: Do you dress to the same aesthetic as your designs?

Michelle: Lately I've been dressing in all black. I think everyone should find what is classic for their style.

Darrah: Black is a classic staple in my wardrobe as well. It's so easy! What are we missing in fashion?

Michelle: I'd love to see more hand-made garments and quality fabrics.

Darrah: I agree. Now that you are graduated, where do you see yourself headed?

Michelle: I did an internship with Luly Yang Couture, and want to learn more about marketing. I am looking forward to continuing this architectural and feminine collection that incorporates my designs and catches the attention of fashion enthusiasts who love couture.

What do you think of Michelle's work? She's definitely one of Seattle's diamonds in the rough.


lydia said...

I like the answer about the comparison to Leanne. Honest. She has a very fun design aesthetic and hope to see more of her in the future!

amy@flyingakite.blogspot.com said...

I am crazy about the first two looks. So outrageous yet incredibly cute.

Madeline said...

I love love love her stuff. particularly the first dress. amazing.
I got the vintage dior from my mom's closet actually. She must have thrifted it from somewhere but I love it. Sometimes I wish I was more punk, but I just can't give up ruffles

jules said...

Oh gosh, these are so sculptural, and beautiful, and seem to have movement, I am stunned.

Kira Fashion said...


The leather jacket from H&M costed US$ 49,90. I love it and I think it worth so much!
I hope you can afford yours!
kisses and hugs,
Thanks for your comment!


HoneyBunny said...

Great interview! Well done:)

I so love the volume and sculpture of those clothes!

The Little Fashion Treasury said...

I love especially the very first loook!
The colors, the shape, the volume ... PERFECT!!!!!!!!!!

Cafe Fashionista said...

I am crazy over the second dress. It's very ballerina - something j'adore. Great interview!

Nemerae said...

2nd and 3rd are absolutely incredible *.* wow!

i.d. said...

I love the technical detail that goes into her work. It's the kind of aesthetic I'd aspire to if I had my own label! Your interviews are wonderful, keep them coming. x

The Clothes Horse said...

Great interview.
I love the shapes she creates with fabric. It's stunning.

Tina { Luphia Loves... } said...

the dresses are so amazing!!

Tina { Luphia Loves... } said...

the dresses are so amazing!!

Annie said...

her clothes are absolutely stunning. they're so architectural, but still very soft and pretty. wonderful work!


Gabbi said...

What an interesting read... I love her work!

Amelia said...

I definitely agree about the Leanne comparison, but that doesn't bother me. I love Leanne's designs, so I particularly love the similar skirt, too.

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Pretty Little Pictures said...

Its lovely, that first skirt reminds me of one of the designers in project run way though.

Chloe said...

The first two looks are fantastic! the skirt in the first one is so inspirational!

Anonymous said...

I like the first two outfits! Very lovely :)

agentnoir said...

I know this post is way old but I just added you to my reader so I'm probably about 10 posts behind. :)

I just had to comment on this because I was immediately drawn to Michelle Lateste's collection as well. I featured her work as my favorite of the AIS show on my blog & I just couldn't get enough of her work! I'm so impressed by the maturity of her collection! Its great to see other Seattlites feel the same way about our local designers! :) xx