Fashion designer Michael Lombard has opened up his first flagship luxury store in the Middle East at Dubai Mall’s Fashion Avenue amidst powerhouses like Gucci, Balenciaga, YSL, and Louis Vuitton. He is now only the second black designer to have an outlet in the prestigious location, after the late Virgil Abloh.
The venue is a masterpiece of fashion and features everything Michael Lombard, from his latest incredible runway pieces to his famed leather jackets, coats, skirts, handbags, and his unrivalled signature fragrances. His exclusive designer brand is renowned for its high-end men’s and women’s genuine calf skin and sheep skin leather jackets, earning him the title “King of Leather” by Huffington Post.
With a reputation of being bold and classy, Michael Lombard started his illustrious career as a record label executive before discovering his passion for fashion. He has dressed some of the world’s most famous faces, including Bebe Rexha, Paula Abdul, Prince Royce, and Tiffany Young. His exclusive designs and unique pieces have graced runways all over the world, making huge waves at the likes of New York and Paris Fashion Weeks.
However, his pieces are not for the faint-hearted or those looking for a subtle and subdued look. Playing with loud colours, embellishments and patterns, Lombard’s striking creations are ones that will make heads turn and thrust the wearer into a different league altogether.
Lombard has earlier exhibited his creations in the city. It was during one of those visits that he met Dunstan Rozairo, chairman of DMCJ events, with whom he built a quick bond and the two decided to open a physical outlet in Dubai.
The opening of the store was graced by the who’s who of the fashion scene in the UAE. From fancy hors d’oeuvres to fashionable influencers, the event was as classy as the man himself. We caught up with Lombard while he was in the city for the event to chat with him about his fashion mantra, his affinity to Dubai and his trademark outspokenness among other things.
You have travelled the world. You have visited Dubai for fashion shows. But what prompted you to set shop here?
Dubai is such an energetic and inspiring city. I have visited here many times before. As I explored the city more, I fell in love with the fashion scene in Dubai. When the opportunity arose to potentially open a store in Fashion Avenue, it became something I had to seriously consider. My partner, Dunstan Rozairo, and I discussed what the opening would mean for us, and the rest is history now. To have been able to open a store in Fashion Avenue is such a privilege and I feel very lucky to be part of the iconic Dubai fashion scene.
What do you think of the fashion scene in Dubai?
Dubai is a city that always sets new standards. This is the same when it comes to fashion. I think Dubai is in a class by itself. Everyone here is so passionate about fashion. Dubai breeds creativity and everything in the city is of the highest quality. With Dubai, people don’t do things by half. The fashion scene is one of the best in the world and rivals the likes of Paris or Milan when it comes to high-end fashion.
The list of celebrities you have dressed is long. What goes into dressing celebrities? How many hours and fittings are we talking about?
I really enjoy meeting new celebrities and getting a glimpse into their lives. Dressing celebrities can also be pretty fun. Many times, I will meet their stylists and discuss the vision of the outfit and what they are expecting. I also have a style fashion PR firm, HarpersPR, that also handles a lot of this for me. Each celebrity is different, but many hours and fittings go into getting them into the right look.
You are never one to shy away from pushing all boundaries when it comes to leather. Where does your love for the cloth come from? And where do you get your fashion inspiration from?
Well, I definitely love pushing boundaries. The love for leather just comes from me always wanting to wear the coolest and the trendiest outfits there are. Leather is such an interesting fabric to play around with and design new outfits with. I love the look and feel of it, and I believe that it can be molded and shaped in so many interesting ways. My inspiration always comes from things I see when I’m travelling. I also take inspiration from art. I love fashion so much that sometimes I even dream about fashion.
What is your fashion mantra?
With fashion, it is all about thinking outside the box. You need to feel a real connection with what you are doing. If you love what you do, you won’t work a day in your life. I always have a phrase that I like to live by: “Create what you love, love what you create.” I love working with leather and I love seeing people wearing and enjoying my creations.
Much like your collection, you are fearless and unapologetic. You speak out, make your point, and stick to it. Where does that streak stem from?
Well, I’ve always been very outspoken. When it comes to things I see around the world, I like to speak my mind. I like letting my feelings and opinions be known. I guess I get this side of me from my mom. She always instilled in me values to speak my mind and stand up for things that mean the world to me. If I believe in something, I can’t be silent when I feel there is injustice.