The life story of legendary fashion designer Michael Braun, best known for making flamboyant stage clothing for pop culture icons as diverse as rock stars like Jimi Hendrix to wrestlers like Hulk Hogan and ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage. This is our review of Made as Art: The Michael Braun Story.
For my sins fashion is my least favourite type of art, it doesn’t interest me and I have no plans to find out more about it. To me fashion is a foreign language, I don’t understand it and I really couldn’t care less how it shifts, changes or what it symbolises. My lack of knowledge with regards to fashion is completely obvious to my friends, my family, anyone who knows me and everyone who has seen me fully clothed. So when Bryan Kaufman’s rockumentary ‘Made As Art: The Michael Braun Story’ came my way I was not infused with much excitement. However, after watching the documentary and being fascinated by it from its very first minutes, I now see the error of my ways and realise how wrong I have been. This leads me to admit, before my conclusion at the end of my review, that this film is a terrific piece of work and Braun was one of the most influential fashion designers of all time.
I had no idea who Michael Braun was before watching Kaufman’s production, yet as the film progressed I recognised a number of his designs and realised I had actually grown up surrounded by them. You see Braun was the fashion designer for iconic rock star Jimi Hendrix from 1968 until the musician’s untimely death in 1972 and his memorable Woodstock outfit with the tasseled sleeved jacket, blue jeans, and purple bandana was Braun. Macho Man Randy Savages multi-colored costumes well that was Braun too. Remember those ‘far out’ 70’s style fancy dress costumes with the flares, frilly sleeves, tassels, long hair, and circular glasses? They are all based on Braun’s clothing designs.
Brauns first meeting with Hendrix is one of the documentary’s best stories, Hendrix already had a certain style before Braun came into his life but Braun with his partner Toni Ackerman laid out a number of styles for Hendrix who at first showed no real interest then after trying on a few clothes he invites them to a gig. Days later Hendrix sends the designers a handwritten letter telling them exactly what clothes he wants, what colour schemes to use and how he wants them designed, thus rock history is made. The irony is that this meeting of creative icons came about by Braun simply taking a chance and knocking on Hendrix’s hotel room door.
The role Braun plays in the life of The Macho Man Randy Savage is also just as fascinating. We find out that Braun basically saved Savage’s career and the costumes he created for him helped turn The Macho Man into one of the biggest wrestling stars of all time.
Kaufman’s pacing of the story is excellent and his direction pitch-perfect. Although we mainly hear from Braun himself he is such a good storyteller that we are drawn into every aspect of his life. We are also treated to a number of commentators who were very close to either Braun himself or the people he designed for. Their input gives an extra dimension to Braun’s story and helps us to fully understand this man and his motives. There was nothing but love, talent and ambition to him and his humbleness towards his clients meant that he became more than a colleague to them. In fact, Braun ended up becoming firm friends with virtually all of the stars he created clothes for.
The production values are extremely high and the fact that Kaufman began this project with a Kickstarter campaign makes his film even more impressive. The graphics and images used for transition are inventive while the photographs are endlessly captivating.
Made As Art: The Michael Braun Story is an excellent documentary that never fails to entertain and educate. A great production that will not only appeal to those interested in music and fashion, but to anyone who has an interest in a genuine human story and the birth of a little known but extremely iconic talent.