Michelle Joan Papillion

Founder & Owner, Papillion; Gallerist; Art Dealer. Los Angeles

By: Meagan Wilson
Styling: Meagan Wilson

If there's one industry that's infinitely more intimidating than fashion (which often is wrongly anointed with the superlative title); it's art. And in venturing into the home of the founder of one of Los Angeles' premiere contemporary galleries—Michelle Papillion and her namesake Leimart Park space, Papillion—we were, in a word, unsure of what exactly to expect. Would she be completely intimidating? School us in the newest crop of Net artists we'd never heard of?

Papillion was precisely the opposite—greeting us in a flowy, blush-hued shift dress and her usual halo of sunshine-y curls, while ushering us into her Spanish-style home tucked away in the hills of Los Feliz. She gave us a tour of the crystal clear, aquamarine pool flanking one side of her home before leading us up it's winding spiral staircase, complete with Basilica-style stained-glass windows, and, of course, to the good stuff: her closet. Papillion copped to a love of not only the likes of Adam Selman and Saint Laurent, but also Topshop and Zara. Each and every piece among her edit had a place or story behind it; from the dress and accessories by her friend Philip Colbert of The Rodnik Band to the "vintage" leather trench from Express (!) that she'd held onto since high school. We mean, Cov-alum Chioma Nnadi had promptly freaked out about it after picking her up from the airport whilst wearing it.

With the help of the mentorship of Jeffrey Deitch, Papillion's been disrupting the art scene in more ways than one. She's spoken candidly on everything from diversity (or more accurately, the lack thereof) in the contemporary art world to her art world uniform deviating from the gallerist norm (no all-black-everything for this girl). What we really bonded over, though, was Papillion's frankness over what ultimately lead her to make the leap from the East Coast to West. In one word? The weather. Not that we blame her.