As serendipity would have it, we first crossed paths with Lord Landon Michael in a Man Repeller story. Photographer Jasmine Clarke met and interviewed him outside of the Sisters Uptown bookstore while surveying patrons about their selections and once the story was published, Michael’s friends tagged him on Instagram. After a few taps, we knew we needed to know him—some rudimentary research revealed that Michael works as the visual director and lead curator at Next Century 21, and that he does just about everything with creativity and flair.
Once we got to talking, we discovered that Michael is a kindred spirit when it comes to contemplating the relationship between clothes and identity. In keeping with this week’s theme, we asked Michael what would fall under his personal umbrella of whatever-the-heck he wants and he told us that while sheltering in place for months, he’d ushered in a new philosophy, both personal and sartorial. Now he’s living and dressing exactly the way he wants. Pre-COVID? His style was “muted, obedient (in following the rules of gender roles), and lackluster.” After his quarantine incubation period? Michael will emerge empowered and transformed, toting three new adjectives: “vibrant, genderless, and (stylistically) contagious!” Keep reading to get the story, and the looks, straight from him.
Along with many others, I’ve often tried to diminish the gay and femme sides of myself, fearing the clapback of our community.
Now, I look to live out loud. COVID may not have been the right prescription, but it offers lasting opportunities for growth, self-reflection, and a mental check up. The quarantine gave me time to self-reflect, to be able to sit with myself and hash out all the negative things that stopped me from being and dressing as truly as I want to. As a result, I think Britney Spears said it best: “I am stronger than yesterday!”
Now, getting dressed in the summer of 2020, I’m ready to embrace my full non-binary realness. From the basketball court to the swings, on this playground of gender identity, I’m playing for keeps, showing my new normal, with an aesthetic to match. I put together three looks using some of my favorite pieces from my own closet—an eclectic mix of suiting, blouses, and basketball shorts—in new ways.
An Angelic Buzzer Beater
This look is one of my favorites: the free-flowing blouse paired with the basketball shorts, beautiful! It lends itself to who I am: soft yet masculine, runway yet street.
My sense of style definitely shifted when I discarded the fear of wearing the pieces I want to wear and pairing things the way I see them in my head. I talk about this a lot with my friends—how you are seen in the street and how, if you’re male, you do have to maintain that masculine touch… you can’t be too femme, because you can get backlash for that. Now, I’ve definitely gotten more in tune with myself. Now the things I wear are loud and take-no-prisoners.
Black Seersucker, Prince-Purple Gloves
I always told myself I would never be the guy confined or defined by a suit, but this look with these gloves—all I can say is pure opulence!
The gloves are almost like COVID fashion protection. They’re giving you the best of both worlds. That’s kind of where my style is, especially as it’s non-binary: I like to give the best of both worlds. Take the gloves and the suit for example: the suit is normally tied to an association with masculinity, whereas the gloves play off of this, creating fun and excitement and bringing the look to life.
Here I play with mixing prints—you have to dive in headfirst and just have fun.
These days I’m seeing lots of people taking chances and being adventurous in their day-to-day style. I think it’s absolutely amazing to see men, women, everyone, who aren’t afraid to take risks with what they wear when they leave the house.
Editors’ note: In solidarity with Blackout Tuesday (today, July 7), MR will only be linking to Black-owned brands for shopping suggestions. (If you haven’t visited strategist Elizabeth Tamkin’s database of more than 600 brands led by Black entrepreneurs, check it out now!)