Michelle Williams: “A Lot Of Designers Would Not Dress Destiny’s Child”

We speak to the star about life out of the spotlight, her approach to fashion over the years, and her recent trip to Australia.
Image: Caroline McCredie

It’s been nearly 25 years since American singer and actress Michelle Williams joined girl band Destiny’s Child, quickly rocketing to fame with the release of ‘Survivor’ in 2001.

It was to be a wild ride for the star alongside her fellow singers Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland.

The trio became known for their iconic matching outfits during this era, and when we sat down with Williams, she explained it was not the cushy designer popstar life you’d expect at the start.

“At the time, before Destiny’s Child really, really blew up, the unfortunate thing was that a lot of designers would not dress Destiny’s Child,” she tells marie claire Australia.

“So, Beyoncé’s mother, with her background designing clothing (being a seamstress and having that kind of training), she would literally have to get a budget from the record label and go to a fabric store.”

Image: Getty

Given the sky-high success of the band, it’s not surprising that designers came crawling back for the distinct opportunity to dress one of the biggest acts of the early 2000s.

“That’s really how things happened. Then, you know, certain designers started to be like ‘oh, okay’,” she explains. “Most of the time a collection would have three or four pieces in the same collection.

“So, it was really cool, because I don’t like certain things that Kelly does or Beyoncé liked certain things, so it all worked out. We never had to fight or anything.”

Anyone with sisters will know what a blessing that truly was.

We’re chatting to Michelle on a park bench in Sydney’s Botanic Gardens. It’s a sunny day, and she looks chic in mustard yellow and black, floral power suit and her Uggs. She’s in Sydney to film a new Uber One commercial with a slightly controversial storyline.

In the commercial, Williams finds herself in a park where she thinks members of the public are recognizing her as the international singing, acting, podcasting superstar she is. However, it turns out that they don’t actually recognise her. It’s a self-deprecating play on some of the more negative commentary Williams gets about being the less well-known member of Destiny’s Child.

Watch it here:

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We ask Williams why she decided to sign on for this tongue-in-cheek campaign.

“Hopefully it shuts people up,” she laughs, adding “just joking”.

“The thing about social media that I’ll say, you see everything and everyone has access to you. Because I engage with people, sometimes I’ll run into some, kind of, not so kind comments,” she explains.

“I either block them or just keep it moving and respond to those that are nice and complimentary. Not saying that you live life for compliments, right, because everybody has an opinion. If something is constructive, criticism wise, I can handle that,” she explains.

“I think I’m in a place in my life where I’ve endured a lot. So stuff like this doesn’t get to me. I can play it up. It’s ok to make fun of ourselves. It is absolutely fun. Kelly Clarkson, you know, ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’.”

She adds that she is personally a fan of Uber One, a membership program offering discounts on food delivery and rideshares. “I showed them [the production team] my actual savings like, ‘I’m an Uber One girl’,” she says.

Image: Caroline McCredie

Since Destiny’s Child, Williams has gone on to have a successful solo career, stint on Broadway and she now runs her own mental-health directed podcast Checking In with Michelle Williams. She’s spent time in the bright heat of the spotlight, but she’s also had the opportunity to live a (somewhat) normal life.

“Time away…,” she reminisces. “It’s so funny because one of the lines in this Uber One commercial, I say ‘I was in one of the most iconic girl groups and nobody recognizes me’. It’s so cool,” she says.

“I learned how to maneuver. I walk down these [Sydney] streets since I’ve been here…I haven’t been here in a while. I feel like the younger people, they’re too young to know. And then some of the people my age are like, ‘That’s not her walking down the street’.”

Williams says that she’s learned to love the quieter moments of her life, as they refuel her for when it’s time to be ‘on’. “I just think of everything as a blessing,” she says. She uses the example of her time in Sydney, where she’s been filming the commercial despite suffering from seasonal allergies.

“What kept me going yesterday [through my allergies], was, ‘This is awesome, this is so much fun, everyone is beautiful, everybody’s fun, everybody’s friendly, the food is good, the coffee is good. The TIM TAMS!’” she exclaims.

It’s clear that Williams infuses passion into everything that she does, and she keeps that energy store full by also getting a break from being ‘Grammy-award winning Michelle Williams’.

Image: Getty

Her new journey, with the podcast, is taking up much of her time these days. Williams has been open about her own struggles with mental health and is passionate about reducing the stigma around the topic.

“I do a lot of public speaking now on the topics of mental health, wellness, making cool pivots and transitions with life and career, and making sure you have fun while doing it,” she explains.

“In 2013, I started talking about mental health and what it has done for people. Now more and more people are talking about it and just kind of normalizing the topic versus the stigma of it,” she adds. “Not everybody has to shout it from the mountaintop, but I will say everybody does have mental health.”

While she is focused on this new love for health and wellness, as well as her speaking engagements, music will always have a special place in her heart.

“I do love music but as far as this other thing, [podcasting] has taken over my career a little bit. But it depends on the moment or the [song] request, but I will definitely bust out some pipes,” she says.

When is she singing? “It could be something acapella or in the moment. Especially if I’m doing a speaking engagement they love when I do a little snippet of a song. I don’t want people to think I’ve totally given up singing, again, it just has to mean something,” she says.

Her favourite song to sing? Well, of course it’s ‘We Break The Dawn’.

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