Michelle Farmer Bejewels Bridgehampton
by pip cummings
Michelle Farmer models one of her own jewelry designs
Dividing her time between the Hamptons and Palm Beach, jewelry designer Michelle Farmer was challenged to find anything unique in the way of resortwear. The solution? Opening her own store: “[I did it] not only to showcase my jewelry and selfishly to find a place that would have everything I loved in it, but also because I really wanted to give designers a platform to showcase their brands,” she says.
Producing small, high-quality runs can make it difficult to become established through larger stores, but Farmer has turned that to an advantage. “Anyone who’s on vacation can walk in [my] store and find something that’s not only unusual, but really beautifully made and unique,” she says, adding that customers can consult swatch cards to personalize their look or even be fitted by the designers by appointment. “It’s this limitless supply of design, because you get to really collaborate with the designer,” she says.
The first Michelle Farmer Collaborate store, which opened in Palm Beach last December, was so successful, it enabled Farmer to open a second store in Bridgehampton in June; it’s just walking distance from her home. The airy space, which she describes as “modern meets the ’20s,” features original tin ceilings, a fireplace, wooden floors, and skylights, and is illuminated by a beautiful, contemporary HelenBilt chandelier by Helen Gifford, whose lighting designs are also for sale in the boutique. Also available are works by Elena Lusenti, Sean Brannan, and Sag Harbor local Vincent Brandi.
Alongside Anika Brazil swimwear, Manu’ Cashmere, and Modo eyewear are two of Farmer’s favorite newcomers: Lauren Gabrielson (whose designs are all customizable) and Jesse Elliott of Whitewash Studio. “We had Jesse with his sewing machine set up all weekend, and we were cutting fabric on the floor and making silk chiffon gowns,” she says. “We collaborated on this gorgeous dress, which I wore that night to an event, and three people wanted to [know where they could] buy it.”
For men there are PuroLino shirts from Italy and Strong Boalt swimwear, plus cashmere and linen scarves. Farmer loves the Old Bull Lee shorts, designed by a former architect from Los Angeles and constructed from vintage Italian fabrics. “Some of them are limited edition, and people are just freaking out over them,” she says.
In addition to showcasing her jewelry (long strips of leather bedecked with beads and freshwater pearls), Farmer has taken the opportunity to develop a resortwear line. It includes “a lot of linens, a lot of floaty silk dresses, some really fun prints,” she says, “everything a woman needs when she goes on vacation.” 2491 Montauk Hwy., Bridgehampton, 604-1850
photography by eric striffler