Delve deeper into the life of LA designer Michael NGO who creates relatable and edgy contemporary pieces and designs that can make any individual feel extra amazing.
Who is Michael Ngo? Tell us your story.
My name is Michael Ngo and I’m a designer LA-based designer specializing in urban luxe ready-to-wear inspired by streetwear couture. Ever since I was a kid I was always sketching and I loved shopping & playing with clothes. I moved to LA in 2008 and became a store manager of a high-end designer store on Melrose which taught me a lot about the industry of fashion—fabrication, cost, styling, marketing and branding—but it wasn't until my love for Lady Gaga’s artistry and fashion did I realize that I had this creative flame burning inside me. I started designing and creating eccentric and elaborate looks that I would wear to her shows, which garnered a lot of attention from my friends, family and even The Queen of Pop herself. I then took a leap of faith and decided return to school in 2012 to unlock this new creativity. I graduated as the Valedictorian of the Class of Fall 2014 at the Art Institute of Los Angeles with a Bachelor’s in Fashion Design and debuted my first runway collection a couple months after during Fall/Winter 2015 Los Angeles Fashion week. Ever since that first show my work has been seen on many celebrities & influencers as well as in multiple publications; I’ve debuted a sophomore runway collection during Spring/Summer 2016 LA Fashion Week; I’ve been able to inspire many of my peers and young creatives through my journey; and I’ve been blessed to continue building my empire through creating, designing, and sharing my vision with the world.
When did you start your career as a designer?
I've been creating and designing all my life as long as I can remember but in terms of my starting my career in fashion, I've called myself a designer since I began working on my first collection in 2014.
Where do you draw your inspirations from?
As cliché as it sounds, I can get inspiration from whatever the universe throws--it can come from anything and anywhere--and I always have my sketchbook and iPhone Notes ready when it comes to me. Lately I've been really stimulated by tribal beats and music and I've made some really cool pieces inspired by really dope tracks I've found!
Give us a glimpse inside your mind and your work space.
Imagine a giant funnel of amazing ingredients dreaming of becoming the perfect cake--this is my mind and my mental workspace. So many ideas and inspiration come to me throughout the day and they swirl and swirl there for weeks and even months until I'm ready to put them together in the oven to bake.
How long does it take you to create an amazing piece?
Anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks. To be honest; I really lose track of time when my creativity takes control and often I'll be working a 4 or 5 great pieces at the same time so it can be a time lapse blur.
What is your most memorable and challenging design yet?
There's so many! I always try and challenge my body and brain when it comes to creating new work. I think the biggest challenge So far was when I was asked to do a custom for K Michelle's 2015 BET Awards performance by image influencer Joey Thao. I had just debuted my first runway collection a couple months before and when Joey contacted me I knew there was a lot on the line--it was my first high-profile custom, it was a major platform to debut my work and there were going to be millions of viewers watching live. I only had a couple of days to make the look, fit it twice, and attach over 4,000 micro crystals to it. I watched it crying on my mom’s shoulder because I was so happy and empowered-It definitely was a challenging yet memorable milestone for me and brand.
Tell us about the collaborations that you do/. How often do you collaborate with your fellow creatives?
I've only done a handful of major collaborations so far; but every time I do I really make sure that all parties are involved and have their input. I'll often present my vision to my fellow creatives--photographers, stylists, beauty artists, filmographers etc.--and I encourage them to send me their mood and inspiration boards so we can all creative a solid vision that we believe and are proud of. I'm definitely working on future collaborations at the moment so stay tuned--I love #CreativeIntercourse!
Ever since I went Madison Square Garden for the first time in 2008, I always kept that venue as a dream playground of mine. I would love to create an epic multi-media/platform event with a technologic multi-dimensional stage design featuring artists, entertainers and influencers I love fully decked out in MICHAEL NGO. It would be a huge celebration of fashion, music, technology and equality!
Dream Muse to work with.
Lady Gaga--definitely not a surprise. Everyone that knows me knows that she is my #ForeverInspiration Not only is her talent, artistry and vision inspiring as f*ck but her heart & soul are so passionate about creating a more loving, accepting and braver world that its captivating and motivates me to become a fearless designer and better person.
Your most memorable project so far.
The night of my "SOVEREIGNS OF THE SΣΛ Ψ SS16" Runway Show at Art Hearts Fashion // Los Angeles Fashion Week. It was the culmination of half a year of conceptualizing, planning, visualizing, creating and showcasing this complete body of work that every ounce of blood in my body believed in. The most powerful moment was seeing all my close friends, family and supporters in the audience and after the show--this moment is engrained in my heart.
Name five things that you will always have in your bag?
4. Dentyne Ice (Arctic Chill)
5. USB battery pack
Why did you to create the designs that you have made? What makes them special?
What makes my designs so special at this point in my career is that each piece is unique, has its own special story, and it's a product of my creative being and my own two hands. As of now my focus is custom one-of-a-kind pieces and that aren't going into production so my clients will have a MICHAEL NGO piece made 100% by me that no one else in the world will have!
How do you think young fashion designers like you help influence/shape/document the society?
Fashion is a reflection of our culture and society--a materialization of the zeitgeist--and young designers, as well as young artists in general, are able to share our viewpoint of the world in a creative manner. We, young creative, have the power to shape and define our culture through out work and we have the ability to change the world with our vision.
What’s coming up for you in the next few months/years? What are your big plans?
After delaying the debut of my new collection for nearly half a year, I am so e cited to announce that I will showing the new body work during LA Fashion Week in October! There were a couple of reasons for the not showing during the last LAFW, but the main one was that I wast 100% happy with the rushed execution of my vision. Now that I've been fully able to invest my time and creativity into the collection, I can finally begin to work on creative collaborations that will bring my vision to life in multi-media platforms. There's still a ton of work to put into it before LA Fashion Week; but I can say that this is my best body of work so far and I can't wait to share it will the world--So stay tuned!
If any legendary designer could take you under his/her house right now, who would you want it to be?
If he were still with us, my life would be complete working under Alexander McQueen. His beautiful mind and savage artistry inspires me beyond words—the way he created and showcased these conceptual stories/collections that lured you and held you captive in his world is something out of this world. He is the inspirational fashion visionary I will always admire the most.
Book that you’re currently reading.
Currently none. I do read and dissect a lot of fashion/lifestyle/pop culture magazines and blogs though!
If you’re going to have the chance to support any charity/organization/person, what/who would it be and why?
There are two. First I would love to support and work with Trevor Project which is a non-profit organization that focuses on suicide prevention in LGBTQ+ youth; and the other would be The Born This Way Foundation which is an organization committed to supporting the wellness of young people and empowering them to create a kinder and braver world.
I was very lucky to grow up in a very open-minded & accepting family/community, but over the years I’ve crossed paths with many young people who aren’t as fortunate and have struggled with self-identity and acceptance. I really believe the purpose and mission statements of these organizations and they both promote positive messages for young people and I really believe in instilling love and giving back to the younger generations in order create a better and brighter future for the world.