A conversation with Michaela

Michaela first draw my eye on Instagram, due to its beautiful and cohesive use of colors, but also because it's impossible to remain indifferent to the appearance of floaty, sensuous and satiny fabrics, gently windswept in a quiet street. The timeless appeal of the carefully chosen vintage garments, combined with Michaela Knittel's own creations, create a rather harmonious symphony that celebrates beautiful and luxurious clothes no matter what label they have.

What made you start Michaela?

I wanted to create a place for women to shop where vintage, second-hand, designer, and hand-made melds together in a seamless and consistent aesthetic. I’ve always felt a great appreciation for designer and high-end items, while simultaneously feeling some second-hand I come across, no matter the brand, can be just as luxurious and special.

I am trained in apparel design, and designing and making clothes is something I love and will always do. With the in-house line, I aim to make clothing women will feel exalted in; that they’ll cherish slipping on in the morning, but will forget they have on during the day. Comfort and ease through cut and fabric selection are very important to me. I’d like the clothing to amplify the woman and her experiences, not distract her. 

Who is the woman who wears it?

I believe in the thoughtful, sensual, and sensitive woman being one of great strength and power. When working, I find I create for this woman - one who is intelligent and inquisitive; whose life is strongly influenced by a deep sensitivity to her surroundings. The clothing line and store is for those who are inspired by the woman whose life emits an undertone of mystery; who is inherently modern, yet yearns for a sense of nostalgia; is private and elusive, yet exudes a subtle sexuality. 

Please tell us a little about your background and what are your influences.

I have a degree in Apparel Design from Rhode Island School of Design. I grew up in Kansas City, which is where I am currently based. And of course the place where I experienced childhood has influenced me greatly - I find there is more privacy and quiet here. The nature as well - vast skies, tall grasses, all of that. This sense of privacy and stillness spurred my interest in the woman I spoke of earlier. Soft, quiet, and elusive. 

Images of interiors also strongly influence me - they are like peering into a vignette of a woman’s personal life. Because I am first and foremost inspired by women themselves - their form, their secrets and lives; I love seeing women’s collections of things - what they surround themselves with, how they nest. To me a woman’s personal space is a reflection of her mind when it is most at ease and most alone.

It’s in this way I find apparel design to be a unique creative field in that what you design and create interacts with a person directly - rests upon their skin, travels through a day or night with them, and has the privilege to be present in their private life. The moments I’m so intrigued by - a woman’s quiet, completely unguarded moments - are accessible to a clothing designer in an unusually personal way. The work is not something beautiful she places her flowers in, something provoking she hangs on her wall, or something inspiring she places on her bookshelf. It is directly involved with her body as she experiences her existence, and there is something very intimate and incredible about that idea.

What are your insiders tips when it comes to run your own business?

I have a relatively new business, so am no expert, but I believe consistency, perseverance, and confidence to be key.

Do you have any morning rituals?

I do not have any specific morning rituals, but one of my strongest ritualistic habits is collecting. I collect vintage perfume bottles, but they have to be just right! I also always search for old magazines and printed materials. My favorites are art and design publications from the 1930s. My mother is the best at finding really special ones for me though. This last Christmas, she gifted me a five volume set of Cahiers de l’Energumène - a French art and literature journal directed by art historian Gérard-Julien Salvy, published in the 1980s. They are gorgeous.

What are the five things you are coveting now?

When I am desiring something I will hunt for it. Therefore some things I am currently coveting will be showing up on the store very soon. Look out for… 1970s lucite watches, statement chokers, silk pantsuits, low cut wrap tops, and oversized slip dresses.


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