Milly’s Michelle Smith kicks off her store’s third season in East Hampton with a t-shirt collaboration with SoulCycle’s Stacey Griffith.
Whether you’ve personally experimented with the crop top trend that has taken over the East End since last summer or just admired one, there’s a good chance it was designed by Michelle Smith. The skin-baring style has been a mainstay of the designer’s warm-weather collections since Resort 2014, and it has become a signature of Smith’s brand, Milly. When asked why, she jokes, “After all the money spent on SoulCycle, I better show it off!”
That’s right: If you know anything about Michelle Smith, you know that the three most important things in her life are her family, the Milly brand, and SoulCycle— specifcally, senior master instructor Stacey Griffth. (Seriously, our last two run-ins prior to this interview were coming out of Griffth’s classes on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and at “the Barn” studio in Bridgehampton, both in the course of 10 days.)
“I launched Milly when I was 27, and I'm a different person now...I think about what my customer wants. [Then] I only thought about what I wanted to wear”—Michelle Smith
Smith and Griffth have one major thing have in common: Each has a fercely loyal and vehemently passionate fan base. So it was only a matter of time before the designer— whose snarky SORRY FOR PARTYING and MY UNICORN ATE MY HOMEWORK T-shirts have become a trademark of the brand—was inspired to collaborate with the spin instructor-cum-life coach on a collection of tees and tanks with quintessential Stacey Griffth phrases on them.
“It’s going to be all of her Stacey-isms,” says Smith. “We’ve been texting back and forth about her funny sayings— it’s going to be a total riff.” The 12-piece collection, which launched July 1 and will be sold at a special pop-up shop at SoulCycle Bridgehampton, plus the East Hampton and Manhattan Milly boutiques, bears motivational expressions like CAN'T STOP WON'T STOP; NO ONE REMEMBERS NORMAL; BANG THE CHAIN; and CHARGE IT HARD LIKE YOUR AMEX CARD, in an identifable Milly font. Smith and Griffth also will host a celebratory ride at the Bridgehampton studio over Fourth of July weekend—but if you haven’t reserved your bike yet, good luck getting in.
Smith’s adoration of one of the cult exercise company’s most inspiring instructors is not surprising, given her own history of empowering women. Three pieces of work from female artists hang on the walls of her East Hampton boutique (including one by Jude Law’s sister, Natasha Law, that resembles Smith’s daughter Sophia); the designer also pays meticulous attention to fattering a variety of body types when creating clothes, carrying up to a size 14; and she’s traveling to fve states this year with NBCUniversal News Group and Mika Brzezinski’s “Know Your Value” tour, leading a breakout session called “How to Dress Like a Boss,” during which she’ll discuss self-confdence in the workplace. All of that is in line with Smith’s personal growth and the evolution of her 14-year-old brand.
“I think [the Milly girl] has grown with me,” she says. “I launched Milly when I was 27, and I’m a very different person now. I’m more knowledgeable about design. I look to the future rather than the past, deriving inspiration from the contemporary art scene, and now I think about what my customer wants, whereas in the beginning, I only thought about what I wanted to wear.”
So what is Smith wearing with her toned-ab-baring crop top this season? “I pair it with higher-waist pants or a pencil skirt for an hourglass silhouette,” she says. “Most people look pretty good [at the top of the torso], but it’s below the belly button that we get into trouble—the cut is strategic so a lot of people can pull it off.” Better get yourself to the Barn. 54 Main St., East Hampton, 604-6544