MICHAEL CEPRESS, DESIGNER

FIELD: FASHION, DESIGN, ACADEMICS ORIGIN: WISCONSIN ZODIAC: ARIES


A. | How do you define yourself?

My entire world evolves around clothing in a lot of different ways. I am an educator at the University of Washington and first and foremost I am a designer—I design both mens and women's that are produced here in Seattle and I design for stage—for theatre and other media. I am also fascinating in becoming a historian digging deeper into the cultural significance of clothing.

A. | How did you become interested in the fashion industry?

I am only marginally in the word fashion. What interests me more is the world “style.” There is a big difference between fashion and style. Fashion is about the industry—this pre-deter- mined way of dressing that is decided my an enterprise of some sort but style is where the excite- ment really happens and individual choice comes into the mix. The majority of my work revolves around style, how people can bring their own sensibility and authenticity into their wardrobe.

A. | What is your work routine? What does your job entail? 

I gather inspiration intentionally; I actively research and seek new material every single day for hours and hours and hours.

A. | What are you most proud of in your career?

I have managed to defy a million assumptions and stereotypes as a self-employed independent working artist for 10 years. The feather in my calves that is most significant right now is that I just cu- rated a major exhibition at the Bellevue Art Museum of over 150 pieces, the majority of which has never been seen before by the human eye. It really blends all that I am for one project.

A. | What is unique about Seattle’s fashion history?

The strongest thing happening in the Seattle area is that is a really arts-minded place and very interdisciplinary in how people think about the arts There is a really sweet and natural blend between love a for the environment, a love for music, a love for theatre and a love for the arts at large. Fashion and style fits around here in a pretty nice way I think.

A. | What are the biggest challenges you face?

Finding the balance; there is a way to manage the business side and the creative side of things—they are two separate worlds—running a business is very different than nurturing a creative voice.

A. | Where do you feel at home?

My own creative voice and my own creative process. I always return to this in the most creative way to feel grounded.

A. | Whats your vision for the future of your work?

Finding authenticity for how you dress. Finding your own most absolutely most purest sense of your- self and sharing it with the world through how you decorate your body.

A. | What would you like to see more of in Seattle fashion industry?

More risk-taking and more individual voices coming through and less following a particular brand or trend.

A. | How does oppression and privilege influence in fashion?

There is one way of thinking about fashion is that in order to participate, you have to be of a certain social status. Then there is the major problem in fashion of how clothing is produced that relates to oppression. Both words are super charged and super loaded. Style doesn’t require anything necessarily but an idea, a sense of themselves, an inspiration—much more core human things that are really not about privilege or oppression.

A. | How do you define success? 

It is sustainability—being able to sustain myself and my own practice as a working artist. It is also about making a cultural contribution, really contributing something to the American or world culture at large. That is far above and beyond just marketing or selling a product. It is sharing a unique voice with a unique perspective of the world through clothing.

A. | What do you think are the most important traits in your industry?

People skills.


FAVORITE QUOTE | “ TREAT EVERYONE THAT YOU MEET AS IF THEY ARE GOD IN DRAG “

FAVORITE COLOR | RED BECAUSE INTUITIVELY I’VE BEEN MOST CONNECTED TO IT—ITS POWER, ENERGY AND STRENGTH—ITS JUST MY COLOR.