Michail Sykianakis was born and raised in Athens and Crete, Greece. Michail was sketching by five years old. At the age of 19, he moved to London to realize his dream of studying fashion. He applied and was accepted at the prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, where he graduated in 1996 with a BA Honors in womenswear. He expressed how the school focused heavily on research, historical costumes, and studying archives. “I learned more of the technical side to fashion after school,” said Michail.
He went on to work for several designers, including Julien Mc Donald, Sophia Kokosalaki, and Alexander Mc Queen. In 2008, he was offered the position of Senior Designer for the Max Azria runway collection in Los Angeles, which he accepted.
During his time at Max Azria, Michail designed many successful collections and dressed several A-list celebrities such as Angelina Jolie at Critics Choice and Sag Awards, Zoe Zaldana, Lucy Liu, Rachel Bilson, Claire Wright Penn, and many more.
In 2015, he began to offer dresses exclusively for the Hollywood elite, and in 2018, Michail created his eponymous brand, “MICHAIL” selling it first to boutiques worldwide and later exclusively online directly to the women he loves.
MICHAIL ~ THE BRAND
The Michail brand offers limited edition, artisanal, unique pieces that draw all the attention to the woman who wears them. A dramatic element is a key to all Michail’s designs. He uses hand draping couture techniques to sculpt the silhouettes and style details directly on the body. This design approach results in pieces that are more three-dimensional, comfortable, and flatter the female form. Michail is more of an online boutique than an online brand. Michail uses an immensely unique approach to his contemporary clothing line that embodies subtle drama.
When Michail had a moment to stop, Gemma Magazine spoke with him about this contemporary clothing line, his inspiration, and his creative process. He’s a true artist that respects his work and the discipline that goes into it. He considers his world to be an emotional journey and is well aware of the fusion between art and fashion.
Who inspired you to be a fashion designer?
My mom was a dressmaker. So many women in my childhood surrounded me, and I just became fascinated by women in general. However, there was almost more of an interest in the women and their stories before the apparel. Then I started drawing the women and afterward came a genuine interest in their clothes. The “story” about them would relate to what she is about, secrets she might have, and what her life was like. So it almost became like a series of characters. Therefore, when I design a garment, I try to create a unique piece that fits their personality.
What qualities/characteristics do you look for when dressing a woman?
I like a confident and strong woman — yet she’s not trying to get the attention. Natural beauty, charisma, and a secure, feminine presence are attractive. I also find a hint of the mysterious fascinating. Overall, a multi-dimensional, strong woman who has a sense of self-respect is so interesting.
How did you like working for Max Azaria of BCBG? You were head of the Runway Line.
Well, I did enjoy it but working for someone else was not my thing. Fashion is a challenging environment, and I wanted my brand. This experience was very commercial for me, but I did create my first collection there, which consisted of a lot of draping. His collection caught the eye of many actresses and models. Angelina Jolie wore two of Michail’s dresses — one to the SAG Awards and one to the Critics Choice Awards. Both consisted of immaculate lines and a lot of draping.
As a designer, what do you feel you are your strengths?
I feel that I’m good at putting “just enough” on something. I know when to stop to keep it exciting and that it says something without being excessive. Also, I feel that this is a critical trait that comes intrinsically to the designer. Sometimes, showing yourself some restraint can set you apart. You are holding a message and end up exactly where you want to be.
Can you tell us a bit about your extended-size line?
I’m very confident about this line, and it will be for sizes 12-18. I want to represent an updated and modern look. Bigger women tend not to look good in something too big or too tight. It will be a well-esteemed line that I’m excited about.
Who would be your dream to design for?
There are so many, but I would have to say Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.
Lastly, who or what sustains you as a designer?
I would have to say Haider Ackermann. Haider Ackermann is a Colombian-born French designer of ready-to-wear fashion and he lives in Paris.
To keep up with Michail, you can visit his website: www.michailsykianakis.com
Also, his Instagram is: https://www.instagram.com/michailsykianakis/