Cultural: News, Travel & Trendsetters

B Michael, the Designer Who’s Dressed Beyoncé, Whitney Houston and More


Style|You Don’t Know B Michael?

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B Michael sitting at a table with fabric swatches on it. In the background are racks with fabric hanging from them. He has one hand on his chin, and he is wearing glasses and a windowpane-check jacket.
B Michael has focused on made-to-order pieces for most of his career and describes his work as a version of haute couture.Credit…Kadar Small for The New York Times

He has dressed Beyoncé. He has had a New York fashion business since the 1980s. His clothes have become social media hits. But the designer is not a household name.

He has had a fashion business in New York since the late 1980s, the same decade that Michael Kors and Donna Karan started their namesake lines. He was inducted into the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 1998. From 1999 to 2018, he showed two collections each year, some on the schedule at New York Fashion Week.

But Michael Brown, 66, and his brand, B Michael, are not household names. While the designer, who goes by B Michael, has made capsule collections for Saks Fifth Avenue and has sold other pieces at a few specialty stores, many of his clothes have never been offered to the masses.

For most of his career, B Michael has focused on made-to-order pieces — some everyday items, and others for red carpets, galas or photo shoots. He describes his aesthetic as “modern day Audrey Hepburn.” Beyoncé, Halle Berry, Whitney Houston, Diahann Carroll, Lena Horne and the jazz singer Nancy Wilson have all worn B Michael clothes.

Some designs have gained outsize attention, like a floppy hat that the actress Cicely Tyson, who died in 2021, wore to the singer Aretha Franklin’s funeral. (Early in his career, B Michael designed hats for the TV show “Dynasty.”) After the service, the designer said, Ms. Tyson told him it was the first time in her life that she had been “upstaged by a hat.”


Cicely Tyson gesturing broadly with both hands as she speaks into a microphone at a podium. She is wearing a large, floppy, black hat, a black dress with bell sleeves, a knotted pearl necklace and long black gloves.
Cicely Tyson at Aretha Franklin’s funeral in 2018, wearing a B Michael hat that later spread across social media.Credit…Paul Sancya/Associated Press

B Michael’s friendship with her is the subject of his new book, “Muse: Cicely Tyson and Me: A Relationship Forged in Fashion,” which was released in January. It chronicles the bond they built through clothes and it features dresses he made for the actress, including a gown she wore to the 2013 Tony Awards that drew comparisons to a purple scrunchie.

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