- BC Games
Collingwood grad opens styling offices in Vancouver, Toronto, New York and Milan
From small-town living on Bowen Island to the runways of Vancouver, Toronto, New York and Milan, Michael Black’s incessant love of fashion has been a whirlwind adventure.
With his sight set on high places, the Collingwood School grad launched Michael Black Fashion Styling two years ago after graduating with an eclectic mix of business, neuroscience and psychology courses from UBC.
“I do a lot of travelling for work but Toronto is what I call my home base,” says the 28-year-old, taking a much needed day off after wrapping up Toronto Fashion Week to plan his Halloween costume — Prom King Ken, complete with custom “life-sized doll clothing” including a silver tuxedo, sash and crown.
Not wanting to give up his Canadian roots, the former West Vancouver resident, who moved to the municipality when he was a young teen, chose Eastern Canada because of its central location.
“I can fly to New York in an hour and half and most places in Europe in six to eight hours, it’s pretty convenient. If I was based on the West Coast it would take a lot longer to get to the big cities for fashion.”
Black’s professional work began at age 16 when he was recruited by Diesel to work as a youth fashion designer on its denim collection. Then, while toiling away at university, he was hired as a personal shopper and later started freelance styling in Montreal while studying at McGill University.
After nine years in post secondary education, he graduated and started working full time.
“Now Michael Black Styling has become what it is today. It’s grown very quickly,” says Black, who has styled the likes of Kate Hudson, Donald Trump’s Miss Universe and Hillary Weston, the owner of Holt Renfrew. He now has offices in Vancouver, Toronto (his home base), New York and Milan.
Long days are typical for Black: He wakes up at 6 a.m. to respond to emails and social media requests, eats breakfast with tea then exercises at the gym or goes to a yoga class. His workday typically begins with photo shoots at designers’ showrooms, which can last up to 15 hours a day.
“All their most current clothes are on display. I will go in and grab the clothes I want to use and sometimes go into the designer’s archives… and reuse some for photo shoots.
“Sometimes I do all of the hiring for everything. In that case, I would be the producer for the fashion shoot, as well as the fashion director and creative director.”
In the evenings, he is off to dinner and meetings or working on behind-the-scenes tasks.
“I have started to become more of a personality in Toronto… I started working on my brand outside of just styling, editorials and runways,” says Black, who now has designers pay him to wear their clothes. This sparked consulting and contract work for Pink Tartan, Caitlin Power, Aveda and other companies he can’t name due to confidentiality contracts.
Playing an active part in Montreal, Toronto, Paris, Milan and London’s fashion weeks, Back keeps a constant eye on the latest trends. He says fur — both real and faux — is making a “massive comeback” with different textures and colours popping up in everything from mink to fox. Punches of bright colours, especially orange, he adds, will be hot this spring and summer, along with plentiful patterns and structured “boxy” clothing.