just in this month

my fashion life MICHELLE LU

The stylish Semaine co-founder on teaming up with
Mario Testino, getting to grips with Paris and
perfecting the art of androgynous dressing.

Photographs by Bruno Werzinski. Words by Alice
Cavanagh. Fashion by Charlotte Blazeby.

Baltimore-raised Michelle Lu lived in New York and London before settling in Paris but, truth be told, she's spent most of her working life on a plane or in transit. Firstly in her role as Mario Testino's creative producer and right-hand woman and now as the co-founder of the London-based digital lifestyle magazine, Semaine.

Since launching Semaine in 2015, Lu and her business partner Georgina Harding have raised the bar for fashion film, producing artful, amusing, and shoppable videos with promising young female directors like Sophie Edelstein, Cloé Bailly and Zoé Le Ber. Thus far, the shorts have run the full gamut, from a prom-themed music video with Pixie Geldof to a documentary on contemporary American artist Daniel Arsham and his colour blindness.

Day-to-day, Lu manages the creative direction, sourcing talent and tastemakers while Harding takes care of the fashion curation. ‘Georgina and I always joke that we have a shared brain, which is why we think that it works so well,’ she says of their dynamic. When she's not setting off to another film location, Lu is working out of a studio in Pigalle, meeting with directors, checking out exhibitions or settling in for the evening in her loft-like abode in Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

Much like her taste in fashion, Lu keeps things elegant and understated at home and has furnished her flat with one-of-a-kind vintage finds. ‘I have tried to keep it really minimal,’ she says. ‘I look around my flat in London and think, why do I have so much stuff?’ The Style Report gets to know this dynamic young entrepreneur.

‘My first official role with Mario Testino was as an art director at his agency, Higher + Higher. After his travelling producer left, he asked me to travel with him and I spent three and a half years on the road as his creative producer – it was such a whirlwind. I did more than 200 shoots and we were on a plane every other day. It was like being on tour; everyone would ask us, “Are you guys a band?”

‘The film community in Paris, particularly the young directors, is incredibly inspiring. Elsewhere, this notion of making films, just to create, has been lost… I've been so inspired by the dedication to the art of cinema here, as clichéd as that sounds. France allocates public funding to filmmaking and this is a model that I believe feeds the creativity of these directors.

‘Paris is small and a lot more spontaneous than other places I've lived. It’s more of a Latin city in its culture and although people might be a bit unfriendly at first, once you get to know them, they'll give you an extra something at the market or let you stay after closing at their bar. In a way, it has that human aspect that I think big cities such as London and New York sometimes lack – here, you still know the person who is framing your pictures. When everything in life is so fast and impersonal, I think those things are so essential.

‘My paternal grandmother has had a real influence on my style. She was a pianist and such an elegant woman and I inherited a lot of her beautiful Chinese dresses and jackets. My style is something that constantly evolves, so I am influenced by whatever I see around me: people I see on the street, friends... literally anything.

‘I like to mix masculine and feminine. I don’t really wear make-up and I wear a lot of trousers but then I’ll add jewellery – I’m into earrings right now – or a nice accessory or detail.

‘I travel often, so having basics that are made well and can be worn day or night, on set and on a plane is important. I've learned how to be ready for anything, and I'm in a routine of having a bit of a uniform.

‘I've learned over the years to pack one thing that can be worn with everything. This red vintage Chinese jacket with a mandarin collar and frogging, for instance, I can wear on the plane to keep me warm, but I'll also put it with trousers and a bit of red lip, and it can be worn at night. I am a good packer, but I'll always forget one essential thing, like a hairbrush or something [laughs].

‘The older you get, the more quality becomes important and just feeling good in what you wear. Where a product comes from is increasingly important to me. I try as hard as I can to be a responsible shopper and to support brands that are ethical or are small and need support — this is also what we try to do on Semaine.’

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GROOMING CÉLINE DE CRUZ AT ARTLIST PARIS.

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