DANILO & MICHELLE HARPER

DANILO & MICHELLE HARPER

FADE IN:

INT./EXT. LE PAIN QUOTIDIEN, MELROSE AVENUE, LOS ANGELES — AFTERNOON

The sound of silverware clinking against porcelain echoes throughout the restaurant. DANILO is seated at a table opposite MICHELLE HARPER. A waitress approaches them, carrying a spread of bread, babaganoush, hummus, and tabouleh.

CUT TO:

The waitress sets the platter on the table. DANILO and MICHELLE smile in thanks.

DANILO
In 1980, I moved to New York, where I was privy to so many people collaborating artistically. That experience helped me understand that I can do whatever I want when I’m inspired — in a generous manner, not in a piggy, ego, way. To date, this has been a church for me.

MICHELLE
One of the things you mentioned that I love is generosity. You are known for being absolutely unique in your creativity, for your integrity, and your attitude. It can be hard to find these qualities working in brand advisory and finance, but I pride myself on prioritizing them as you do. It’s one of the most inspiring elements of our creative relationship and friendship.

DANILO
I always say I’m a boy scout — I was an eagle scout — and that I was raised by Quakers. Both had deep influences on me. There’s a bigger picture, and there’s no reason anybody needs to suffer. It’s about coming with a fucking smile on your face and making the best of what you’ve got. I’m a one for the people kind of guy. There’s room to play and give, at the same time, always.

MICHELLE
I couldn’t agree more. People think that in finance you have to be cutthroat and not take others’ feelings into consideration. Even in fashion, I find the same thing can happen. I’ve never bought into any of it. I’ve always thought you can do a great job — an even better job — by being kind and doing your work well.

DANILO
There’s a term that I always wish my friends and myself, and that’s “abundant magnificence.” I want to see you at the top of your soul, giving the best you’ve got. I’m told I give to fault at times. I don’t see it that way.

MICHELLE
When we’re together, it’s about an absolute freedom of expression. There are no limitations — that’s what I feel, how I dress, and how I express myself. I’ve never let anyone dictate to me what is possible. If I can move someone to feel empowered, to feel totally self-expressed and free, then that’s what I want to do.

DANILO
That’s the joy of Michelle. You’re a vision, and then there’s this heart and mind as well. It’s a phenomenon.

MICHELLE
It’s time to spread the message of self-expression and total freedom. I’ve built several companies from the ground up, successfully. Things that people said would fail. I kept plugging away, and followed my heart. So it’s an honor when I’m told that I’m a muse, because I’m just being me!

DANILO
You are amusing, in that way. That’s the one thing about what we do: We just do it. I love that about us. We will stand alone and make it happen, because it’s in our hearts, our souls.

MICHELLE
Absolutely! When I’m with you, we’re talking about life, we’re talking about beauty, and I’m getting the best haircut in the universe [DANILO laughs]… He’s the only person on the planet that I’ll let do whatever the fuck he wants with my head, because I’m a —

DANILO
You’re a muse.

MICHELLE
With you, I’m like: Let’s create, let’s go for it. And it’s so refreshing and fun. No one is going to stop us from living that way.

DANILO
It’s called do the right thing, girl.

MICHELLE
It’s called being you, being unique. Don’t be caged and imprisoned by what people say you should and shouldn’t do.

DANILO
You have to live your truth in your heart, because otherwise, you’re killing yourself. Or, just not living. We have this multifaceted fascination with many things —

A baby starts to cry loudly.

DANILO
But ultimately it’s that strength and fortitude that is our soul, our being, and our artist. And again, what I call the church — your wholeness, your happiness, your gift you’re giving. You and I get down on church.

MICHELLE
We get down on church! When we have our personal time together —

DANILO
Excuse me, is that Meryl Streep at Le Pain Quotidien?

DANILO and MICHELLE crane their necks to get a good look.

MICHELLE
It could very well be [gasps]! When we’re together, we inspire each other. I found somebody who understands exactly how I feel about life that I can connect with on so many levels, and it’s such a gift.

DANILO
It works both ways. It’s like I’m fucked with inspiration —

Another baby starts to cry loudly.

DANILO
I’m so lit up. All my senses are going: Bing, bing, bing, bing, bing. I love you in my life, and I love what we get to do together. And that’s not to exclude the hard stuff — the pain, the tears.

MICHELLE
It’s a beautiful friendship. I’m in full gratitude.

DANILO
Times ten!

CREDITS

Portrait photography byJenny Shimizu

Conversation moderated byThe Thick

Danilo is a hair stylist based in Los Angeles.
Michelle Harper is a New York City-based brand advisor and model.

Did you see? Danilo displays his artistry in a 1993 American Vogue editorial, Makeup artists and best friends, Tamah Krinsky & Sage Maitri, each remember the day they met.

THE END