Colombian-born Michelle Harper (left) spent her formative years in New York but credits her bold style to her grandparents. Her grandfather, an architect, was an early champion of modernism who built a church in her hometown, Barranquilla, and her grandmother taught the 7-year-old Harper how to walk in high heels. “She’d put a book on my head and send me up and down the stairs. As a kid, I’d go into her closet, which was a glamour house of divinity, with Balenciaga and Dior. I’d put on her pearls, one of her wigs, her Shalimar, a Balenciaga cape, and heels. I mean, those getups as a kid were crazy.” Her art dealer father, she notes, was also a wacky dresser: “He used to buy me the wildest clothes, which made me the weirdest kid at school.” These days Harper, a New York–based brand consultant, prefers to dress intuitively. “I get a feeling, and then a series of images pops into my mind, and then I just pull—boom, boom, boom—and that’s it. People actually sort of freak out when they see me get ready, because it’s so fast.”
Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses; Betony Vernon sterling silver neck brace and bracelet, and sterling silver bracelet with ostrich feather attachment. Harper wears her own bra and briefs. house of exposure helmut red lipstick.
Photography by Tim Walker