Queen of bespoke Michelle Farmer tells the tale of how she became a fashionable force in Palm Beach.
What started as a distant dream for a young Michelle Farmer quickly became a reality. The well-traveled designer and entrepreneur dove headfirst into the boutique fashion industry, creating Michelle Farmer Collaborate (michellefarmer.com), a brand that extends up and down the East Coast, as well as in Palm Beach. The brainchild of Farmer—later joined by husband Peter, who now serves as the brand’s chief financial officer—Michelle Farmer Collaborate functions as the perfect marriage of Farmer’s own designs with luxury labels and friends’ and artists’ work.
Farmer grew up traveling in Taiwan, the French West Indies, St. Martin and St. Barts before finally settling down between New York City and the Hamptons, where she started her fine jewelry collection. “It’s funny because it all happened so organically,” says Farmer. “I always had a retail fashion background. I got a job with a fine jewelry company, Oro del Sol, and, from there, I got more and more involved in the jewelry world.” As longtime visitors of Palm Beach and largely connected with the community, Farmer and her husband fell for the South Florida hub, buying a home in West Palm Beach and an investment property on the island. And the rest is history.
The 3,000 square feet of retail space that was supposed to house a temporary three-month pop-up, quickly became a full-fledged store, featuring designers such as Canvas & Hyde, Julianna Bass and Morgan Lane, with a focus on custom-designed pieces and a personalized shopping experience. “I had already written down my master plan of opening a clothing store concept. I had gone to Bali and had some samples made. I had drawings of what I wanted to see in the store, how many employees we’d have—so when we bought this building, I was able to put everything into motion,” recounts Farmer. “I started to introduce my pieces. Now, my line is the best-seller in all four stores, making about 70 percent of our retail.”
The excitement around Farmer’s Palm Beach store began humbly and came to fruition with grandeur, but it wasn’t always that easy. She remembers, “I had no prior experience actually making garments, so I went and took classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC and some at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, but I really learned the hard way working with the factories in NYC.” Now, with spring in full force and her eighth year in business, Farmer predicts floaty fabrics, ruffles, feminine silhouettes and more color on display at her store. “We always have a lot of color, but, now, we are bringing in some gorgeous jewel tones, greens, yellows and intense pinks,” says Farmer. In addition, a new and highly anticipated jewelry collection by Nan Fusco has been added to the docket. “Nan Fusco’s pieces are very unique and not found in a lot of stores, so I am excited to carry and introduce her to our Palm Beach audience,” says Farmer.
Photography by: Michelle Farmer Collaborate | Headshot by Neil Landino