Milly's Michelle Smith Is Taking Back Her Brand

Milly NYFW Split - Publicity - H 2016
Greg Kessler

Milly NYFW Split - Publicity - H 2016

“I haven’t changed who I am, but I think I’m able to speak it much more clearly now,” said the designer during her spring 2017 presentation.

Any fashion insider will tell you that Michelle Smith’s fall campaign for her namesake label, Milly, founded in 2001, was a bit of a departure from her usual demure, more subtle aesthetic.

The images received immediate attention for the jolt of attitude and sass, the bright colors, and tongue-out models brought to the brand (as well as some unwanted attention via accusations that Milly copied Toilet Paper magazine's candid photographic style).

But Smith claims the new 'tude isn't actually new at all — it's just finally coming to the surface. "This has always been my attitude — that I’m irreverent and I love to have fun," Smith told Pret-a-Reporter backstage before her spring 2017 presentation, which was attended by Kelly Osbourne, Skyler Samuels and Candace Cameron Bure. "But my collection has always kind of been diffused wholesale through other stores and how they want to see it." However, thanks to extra energy devoted to the direct-to-consumer channels, Smith is regaining her voice. 

"I put a lot of investment in and the new ad campaign is an extension of that," she said, adding that in addition to her e-commerce business, she is also focusing on more brick-and-mortar shops.

"[My message] got diluted through other channels, so this is me speaking my voice, saying what I’m all about," she remarked. "I haven’t changed who I am, but I think I’m able to speak it much more clearly now."


That’s a wrap! Thank you to everyone who helped make my fashion dream a reality.

A photo posted by MILLY Michelle Smith (@milly) on

As for her newest collection, shown Friday at New York Fashion Week, the bright spring line captures Milly's "sexy yet smart" vibes in the form of fresh athletic silhouettes (think drawstring trousers and bandeau style tops layered over plain white tees), the seemingly eternally trendy crop top, cropped just a little higher than seasons past, and playful details.

"There's a lot of lacing details, hidden secrets that make the wearer feel sexy," said Smith, referring to the thigh-high slits and slivers of skin peeking through corset-like lace-up work. "It's very sensual."