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Designer Micole Love wearing a pair of his signature glasses.

Designer Micole Love channels his own insecurities to create fashion for all.

Designer Micole Love wearing a pair of his signature glasses.
Designer Micole Love wearing a pair of his signature glasses.
Genteel Black & Red Floral Ensemble, Top: $425; Bottom: $625

At 33, designer and Buckhead resident Micole Love is one of those people who has lived so much life, it belies his young age. Growing up in Cincinnati, he loved watching his seamstress mother sew her own clothes and began sketching his own designs. He hid his creations from his mother, who was worried about her son’s sexuality, but when she found his sketchpad, she was floored by his talent. She even began sewing his designs to wear. Love was 6 at the time.

In grade school, Love customized his school uniforms to look unique, but struggled with his weight and put fashion on the back burner as he became increasingly insecure about his appearance. After high school, Love took a job as a wheelchair assistant at the Cincinnati airport and became known as “Big Mike.” Despite being well liked, his self-doubt was all-consuming, and at 19, Love decided to take charge of his health. He began eating healthier, and pushing people as many as 30 miles a day around the airport helped as well. In one year, Love lost 115 pounds and went down eight clothing sizes. “

After my weight loss, I was still insecure, so I started using fashion again to push myself out of those shy ways,” Love says. “I started making bowties and wearing them to work.” His style and personality caught the attention of a local celebrity who frequented the airport, and he suggested Love get an agent and pursue modeling and acting.

In 2013, Love enrolled in the John Casablancas Modeling & Career Center and excelled in his training. He soon shifted from student to teacher, instructing modeling and acting classes at both Casablancas and at local high schools.

Genteel Red Asymmetrical Floral Suit, Top: $475; Bottom: $750
Genteel Red Asymmetrical Floral Suit, Top: $475; Bottom: $750

A deeply spiritual man, Love says God leads him toward specific actions, including stepping away from a front-of-camera career and moving back to fashion, to the man he married in 2015 and to the couple’s move to Atlanta in 2018.

In Atlanta, Love legally changed his name from his birth name, Michael Sprawl, to something he says reflects who he is as a designer, and officially left “Big Mike” in the past. He moved on from bowties, and in 2020 started creating the glasses that he is widely known for.

In 2021, his unisex fashion line Miicon Genteel was born. “I design everything from my own insecurities,” he says. “I always wanted to be a masculine man, but when I tried to be, I felt very fake, so I realized I had to find balance between my masculine and feminine, and my designs reflect that.”

Love introduced his most recent denim collection in November 2023 at a fashion show at Blue Martini nightclub in Buckhead. Four hundred people watched the runway exhibit hosted by model Maddie Gray, while DJ Babey Drew manned the music.

Love doesn’t aspire to dress celebrities because he doesn’t want someone’s persona to outshine his designs, but he admits it would be a dream come true to gift Sir Elton John with a pair of his glasses. He’d also love to design something for singer Monica. “I met her when I was working at the airport in Cincinnati, and she is such a real person,” he recalls “She showed me my own star power way back then.”


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