Alex Michael May
L.A.-based creative director Alex Michael May believes everything and everyone has a story to tell. That's as true for the head-to-toe patterned jumpsuits she wears as it is for the killer fashion and lifestyle campaigns she works on in her studio. For our Spotlight this month, we gave Alex the reigns. This behind-the-scenes creative had carte blanche to concept, produce, prop, style, shoot and model her own looks. Hear her story and see what happened when she stepped in front of the lens.
Alex Michael May Swaps Roles On Set
Creative directors like Alex Michael May call the shots from behind the scenes. After working on set with fashion and lifestyle brands, Alex knows what compositions and color palettes are working and what angles aren’t. That’s how we knew she had the right eye to produce, direct – and even model in – this month’s Spotlight.
On average, creative director Alex Michael May is on set 75 days a year. So she knows a thing or two about props, shot lists and fashion.. Just recently, she shot a spa ad in a bamboo forest and a fashion line in the studio while her team’s mascot—a beagle named Milo—looked on. As this month’s Spotlight producer/director/model, the sparkling beach blonde admits it was an exhilarating challenge.
"I do this every day for my clients but never for myself!"Her Spotlight Series concept reflected shift this with subtle peeks around backdrop curtains and interactions with her every day stage props such as seamless paper. “It’s easy to give campaign advice to clients – it’s harder for yourself,” Alex says. This sentiment was also true of how – until last year – she styled models on set but never styled her own look.
“Even though I always cared about beautiful things at work, I didn’t turn that lens on myself.”
This newfound sense of excitement for expressing herself has also equated to a host of new opportunities. She’s a presence in ELOQUII’s holiday and swim campaigns, presenting at conferences such as last month’s Wild Hearts Conference and next month’s CurvyCon, working in the ModSquad at Modernism Week, sitting front row at September’s upcoming New York Fashion Week and creative directing for prominent names such as Coach, Forever21, and Nicolette Mason and Gabi Gregg.
Now, Alex feels her best when dressed in her unexpected and vintage-inspired personal style. Just look to the head-to-toe patterned jumpsuits that have become her signature look. Some days it’s floral. Some days it’s an all-over gingham or sequin. “I like styles that tell a story – a pattern story, a color story,” says Alex. “Something you think you can’t pull off but then you can.”
It’s also why she ordered everything she wore on the Spotlight shoot – from the ruffled-ankle pants to the brocade coat and matching skirt and red, bowed dress.
These styles remind her of another favorite statement ensemble: an ELOQUII gold lamé pantsuit.
She reminisces about wearing it to an event as the moment when she started to feed her sense of fashion and was surprised when she saw her photo in a group shot. “I thought, ‘I look good.’ That’s when I got ballsy. I started stepping into who I can be. I’m going big right now – fully believing in myself.” Without self-limitations, Alex is certain that this year she’ll be traveling more and producing more blog/vlog/social content for her combined 33,000 followers. That’s when she’s not looking for a live/work studio space or planning her wedding for next year. And when she needs a breath, she takes leisurely mornings reflecting at local Venice Beach or relaxing nights with her newest obsession, a cool diffuser with drops of easy-breathing lavender oil while the record player spins tunes by Solange or The Shins.
To tackle these ambitions, she’s always taken the advice to heart that: Whether you think you can or you can’t – you’re right.
This belief stayed with Alex even as her career took a winding path. She originally moved to L.A. as an improv sketch writer. Life then took her on a journey as a boutique clerk, nanny, wedding planner, prop stylist and blogger intern, where she started producing shoots. Now she has a full production company and works with women—like photographer Cacá Santoro, art director Kat Long, filmmaker Marissa Rascon and editor Bevie Roberts—who lean on and support each other (often over Sonoratown tacos). These are the people she leaned on to make the Spotlight shoot come to life and the type of women she hopes to model self-love, worthiness and empowerment for.
What was your first Eloquii purchase?
A cape-y, flowy dress that I wore at a friend’s wedding.
Who are your style icons?
Twiggy and Edie Sedgwick. I’m a big fan of 60s and 70s style.
What style are you most excited to try in 2017?
Denim. I haven’t mastered it yet. This season, I want to rock high-waisted bell bottoms.
What is one of your proudest moments?
At the Wild Hearts conference, I was super nervous. I walked out on the stage, gulped and said “How are you doing?” One audience member said it was her birthday so we all sang “Happy Birthday” to her and I had a real moment with the audience. I was able to talk informally about my journey after that and so many people came up to me saying it was one of their favorite parts of the conference.
What’s your beauty and accessories approach?
I make sure they’re not too loud or compete with my outfit. For beauty, I always wear a coral or neutral lipstick, glowing neutral skin and take the most time perfecting a bushy feathered brow. For accessories, I color-block to match my look – so a vintage scarf, lucite necklace, earring or hat usually.
]Inspired as we are? Shop all the of Alex's looks below and check out our new arrivals page here.