A native Texan, Michael Faircloth enrolled in the fashion design program at the University of North Texas (UNT) in 1978. Fast-forward 30 years, Faircloth has developed a worldwide clientele for custom garment design and has become a leader in the arts and fashion communities in Dallas. He received national attention in 2001 for his design of Laura Bush’s red couture inaugural gown. The same year, Faircloth received the Dallas Fashion Award from Fashion Group International at Dallas Market Center.
You started working at Neiman Marcus in Dallas, how did that time influence your career?
When I was studying fashion design at the University of North Texas, I also worked in sales at Neiman Marcus. While I was being taught draping, patternmaking, fitting and construction at UNT, I was fortunate enough to be able to perfect other skills during my time at Neiman Marcus. There, I had the opportunity to meet the different designers who came to the store with their clothes during trunk shows and learn of their particular methods of construction and design. Probably as valuable, was learning the finer points of customer service in dealing with the level of clientele for whom I wanted to design.
You designed for the former first lady, what was that experience like?
I had the honor of designing the inauguration gown for first lady Laura Bush at her husband’s first inauguration. It is a distinct privilege awarded very few designers and is especially daunting, as the gown becomes a part of a permanent installation at the Smithsonian. I had enjoyed six years of designing for Mrs. Bush while she was first lady of Texas, so our established rapport certainly aided in my designing a successful dress for such a special occasion. One that would, hopefully, make her feel beautiful and at ease while providing the appropriate amount of excitement during her introduction to America as our new first lady.
What would you say has been your highest personal achievement to date?
I feel that my personal highest achievement, at present, is in knowing that I have assembled a group of wonderfully talented artisans, who aid me in providing some of the finest products available to my clients. These wonderful women shop all over the globe for exquisite luxury goods, and knowing that they include me, and my creations, on their list of “must haves” is very rewarding.
What do you hope to achieve next?
Recently, I have been honored by the University of North Texas with the naming of the fashion design program as the Michael Faircloth Department of Fashion Design. It is a tremendous honor, and I, with the help of my dear friends and clients, believe we can reach our fundraising goal this year. This will be a great achievement and one that will hopefully maintain the fashion design department at UNT as one of the top five in the nation.
When did you branch out into interior décor?
I have enjoyed designing clothes for numerous interior designers over the years, and I have found that most creative people enjoy collaborating. My ability to design and create beautiful hand embroidery and embellishment has appealed to numerous interior designers and their clients. It was kind of a natural transition to carry this talent into home interiors, and my collaborations have yielded some extraordinary projects. Most recently, 16 multidimensional hand-beaded and embroidered chair backs for a dining room on a yacht. For another client, I had designed the bridal gown and her trousseau, as well as the attire for her wedding party and mother. Every garment was detailed with hand embroidery, as the mother is particularly fond of fine embroidery. To complete the wedding project, the mother commissioned a hand-embroidered headboard for the bride and groom as a surprise upon their return from their honeymoon.
What do you find most interesting about using your fashion skills on interior designs?
I especially appreciate the dedication to the choices one makes with respect to their interior space and the longevity of that choice. In contrast, there is a great amount of spontaneity with regard to fashion, and even though hundreds of hours are spent creating an exclusive garment, often it is worn for a special occasion and never again.
Who do you think is doing inspirational work in fashion today?
In today’s fashion world I am very much appreciative of the talents of Zuhair Murad and Elie Saab. Their individual dedication to the beautification of the female form is very much in line with my design philosophies.
Where would you like to see your career in the next five years?
I hope to be fortunate enough in the upcoming years to enjoy and maintain the wonderful growth I have experienced, both personally and professionally, over the last 32 years. Every day is fulfilling, knowing that I can make my clients feel beautiful and confident in my designs. It is very gratifying to use my skills and talents to bring beauty into one’s life and to aid in the elevation of fashion as an art form. But … more basically, I hope to continue to provide a stable, safe, happy and healthy work environment for my wonderfully dedicated and talented employees.
You donate a lot of your time to charities. What drives you to do this?
Early on in my career, I decided that rather than spending funds advertising and touting my talents, I would give to the charities in my community. A great deal of my business is socially driven, with a fair share of clothes being designed and worn to charity balls and luncheons. I have always felt it better to honor my clients and support their charities of choice, for they are supporting me with their loyalty. It has proven to be a great choice, one that has formed many long-lasting relationships.