Future Fashion: Houston Engineer-Turned-Artist Michel Muylle


Would you like that on aluminum, or care to wear it home?
By Donalevan Maines

Houston engineer-turned-artist Michel Muylle executes his latest series, “Hymn to Color,” with UV ink on brushed aluminum, but variations of the inks are available in silk.

For men, Muylle offers dynamic bow ties, neckties, and pocket scarves. “Every single bow tie is one-of-a-kind,” he says. “They are very intricate and unique. They don’t come very cheap.”

Of the eight inks on brushed aluminum that are featured on the artist’s website, michelmuylle.com, some of them—#10, for example—would look peachy on a wall with Professor Plum and a candlestick in the conservatory, but I’ll be damned if they don’t look runway-ready as women’s fashions: over a black ensemble, clinched with a band tie at the waist, #10 in silk would glow like a Japanese sunset.

But Muylle is way ahead of me—he’s also fashioned “Hymn to Color” as a line of 10 silk scarves, ranging in length from 36 inches to 53 inches.

Muylle says his “Hymn to Color” is inspired by “Linear Thoughts” (his earlier series of vertical lines), with both of them building upon his “innate love” for colors and complex compositions. Some of them—#10 included—also boast a liquid transparent resin pour that highly impacts the perception of color. “‘Hymn to Color’ reflects on my innate love for music, from the classical greats such as Mozart and Verdi, to the flavors of today.”

For the Bruges, Belgium-born painter, Houston itself is a muse. “My inspiration
also comes from Houston,” he explains. “This growing metropolis is a positive force of energy—its diversity, its ambitious journey into the field of medicine, its roots in oil and gas.”

In fact, it was the oil and gas industry that brought Muylle to Houston as an engineer, and his position has taken him across the globe.

I spoke with him by phone when he was in San Francisco, about to jet to Taipei, Taiwan. “Blessed with international travel as an engineer and corporate business developer, coupled with an earlier passion for ballet and performance, I have had exclusive opportunities to explore my wanderlust for creativity and the arts,” says Muylle. And it has all contributed to his striking compilations of geometric images.

“As a self-taught artist, exploring the arts with friends, collectors, and the intellectually inquisitive has been the most rewarding aspect of my life,” says Muylle.

Double the Fashion
HandkerSquares are a modern twist.

A 21st-Century Gentleman: Co-founded by Houstonian AJ Costa (pictured), Handker-Squares are handkerchiefs that double as pocket squares. Photo by Alvin Haynes Jr. Photography.
A 21st-Century Gentleman: Co-founded by Houstonian AJ Costa (pictured), Handker-Squares are handkerchiefs that double as pocket squares. Photo by Alvin Haynes Jr. Photography.

If there’s one thing Houston is notorious for, it’s our blazing hot summers. The summer of 2013, Houstonian AJ Costa notes, was especially sweltering. On the weekend of that year’s Free Press Summer Festival, Costa and his friends Regis Devonish and Demetrius Hardeman were enjoying cigars on the patio when Costa removed his linen pocket square and used it to wipe the sweat from his face. “Regis looked at me kind of funny and said, ‘Dude, what are you doing with your pocket square?,’” Costa explains. “I said, ‘It’s hot, I’m sweating, and it seems like a better idea than carrying around a hand towel or using a boring white handkerchief.’ He got this look on his face and said, ‘You know we could do something with that.’ Next thing you know, we were digging for fabrics.” The HandkerSquares brand was born.

Founded as an offshoot of parent brand Modern Renaissance, HandkerSquares are colorful, sleek, and sophisticated handkerchiefs that double as pocket squares. These locally-made squares blend classic and contemporary styles and present customers with versatility, form, and function. “You can wear them in your lapel, back pocket, vest, or wherever you choose,” Costa says. “Yet, you can also clean your glasses and wipe your hands and face.” HandkerSquares are also limited run and individually numbered, giving each an exclusive feel.

Although not gay himself, Costa is very familiar with the LGBT community, as his two moms have been together for 21 years. He has used his personal knowledge and experiences with LGBT folks to create a brand that appeals to everyone, regardless of identity. “Wherever they lie on the spectrum, people just dig them because they’re a new school twist on an old school staple,” Costa says. “For me, [our typical customer is] someone who enjoys the details, being creative, and likes living life just outside the lines.”

HandkerSquares range from $20 to $35 and can be purchased online at squareup.com/market/demegis-llc—Megan Smith


Don Maines

Donalevan Maines is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.
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