By 1995, however, he was consulting for a Japanese company, the Miki Corporation.
“It’s good money for very little headache,” he told Constance C.R. White of The Times. “I literally made no money when I worked on my own. I make good money now.”
Michael Leva was born on Jan. 15, 1961, in Denville, N.J., and grew up in Morristown. His father, James, was an electric utility company executive. His mother, Marie (Marinaro) Leva, was a homemaker and middle school librarian.
He had planned to study landscape architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design but switched his major to apparel design his first year. “I liked the immediacy of grabbing the fabric, throwing it on the form, pinning it,” he told Vogue in 1989. “It’s similar to what I love about gardening: the hands-on experience. Architecture is just tons of planning and drawings, and, you know, I just lost interest in it.”
Mr. Leva was an ardent, skilled gardener. Even after he began his fashion business, his mother told The Times, he would take the train out to northern New Jersey to his parents’ house in Chester and work in the garden until dark. He created an all-white perennial garden there, which was his inspiration for his all-white evening collection in the spring of 1990. It “drew praise for its delicate fabrics and flowing lines,” The Times reported.
After closing his business, Mr. Leva was a branding and design consultant for various companies, including Macy’s, J.Jill, Victoria’s Secret, Casual Corner and C. Wonder, the short-lived retail venture of Christopher Burch, Tory Burch’s former husband. He helped write “Recipes for Parties” (2014), a book on entertaining, with Nancy Parker. He moved to Rhode Island in 2018 and lectured at RISD.