Life Offbeat

By Mollie Mansfield

 

They’re known for their obsession with technology and obsessing over selfies.

But millennial Michael Koropisz is more likely to be found perfecting an oil self-portrait than snapping Instagram-perfect pictures on his phone.

The 24-year-old professional portrait painter lives a very different life from his peers – preferring to pretend he’s living in the 1800s.

Despite being a young man in the 21st century, Michael insists on living in the past by strictly dressing in only Victorian clothes from the 19th century and filling his house with antiques.

Michael writes in quill and ink, refuses to watch television, and travelled everywhere on an old fashioned-bicycle – until it was stolen.

And despite his family and friends not sharing his adoration for the olden days – and the abundance of puzzled looks he receives from strangers – Michael admits he wouldn’t want to live his life any other way.

Michael said: “I have always been fascinated by the history that surrounds me – I have been dressing the way I do for as long as I can remember.

“My earliest memory is seeing a top hat for sale in the window of a shop and asking my mother to buy it for me.

“I dedicate my life to the era and have spent tens of thousands of pounds on clothing and furnishings – I don’t have a budget for my passion for history.

“My friends and family don’t share my interest and the way I choose to live my life, but that doesn’t matter to me.”

Michael claims that his love for the past initially begun when he studied the Victorian era in primary school, even though his brother Bob, 20, would desperately try to get Michael to join in a game of football.

Michael added: “Most people looked at the class as boring history, but I really connected with it – I felt as though I really understood it and they way people were.

“After learning about the era I began to base my life around it.

“I adore everything from the era: the fashion, the morals, the aesthetics of furniture and even the music.

“I base my personality on that of a Victorian – I am very much a gentleman and always polite.

“People have always told me how polite I am ever since childhood.

“I detest ill humour or anything dirty in conversation and I never swear either.

“I only listen to music written before 1900 and I attend the opera many times a year, often in my own private box.

“I also play the piano to a high standard and therefore relate to the music more.

“I adore the clothing for its delicacy and ornate nature – clothes were very expensive and people would always wear their best when outdoors.

“Now people are so spoilt with cheap, mass produced clothing, that clothes are no longer used as a way of promoting ones status or wealth and rather just ‘something to keep you warm’, regardless of it’s aesthetics.

“Instead, I spend an entire week’s wage on a coat – and the average age of my clothes is 120 years old.

“My most expensive item is a tailored dressing gown and night shirt I had made for my fit in Germany, which cost well over £700.

“I am currently transforming my house into a Victorian haven.

“My main project was restoring my bedroom to an authentic Victorian room with oil lamps, a grandfather clock and gramophone which cost well over £8000.

“Even the panelling and cornice alone cost £1000.

“I hope that once the house is finished people will feel as though they have stepped back in time once they walk in.

“Even my job is tailored around my love for the past as I paint custom portraits in an older style.

“People buy my art not just for what it is but also for the artist who creates it so I always make sure I’m dressed in dinner tails when I unveil a portrait.”

Despite having loved the Victorian era since he was a young boy, it is something that his 20-year-old brother, Bob, has never shared an interest of.

Bob, a student, said: “Michael enjoyed drawing and playing piano whereas I had the more ‘stereotypical childhood’ in like how I played football instead.

“We differ as I like to dress in more modern, up-to-date clothing and adapt with the times whereas he does not follow that trend at all.

“I like my brother’s style – I like how he’s not afraid to be different.

“I think it’s actually a very classy and smart style and goes well with his whole image of being a classical painter.”

Although he sometimes gets odd glances from strangers, Michael claims that his unique sense of style and gentlemanly ways leave him inundated with offers for potential partners as he believes he is one of England’s most eligible bachelor.

He said: “I am currently not in a relationship, but I can assure you I am not unwanted.

“I am one of the most eligible bachelors for miles around.

“When I do decide to marry, I would prefer someone like me – a lady who wears a bustle and feathers in her hat, and who could accompany me with her singing as I play the piano late into the evening.

“My career as an artist is far more important to me than love – I spend each day thinking of new ideas, painting and being creative.

“I never get the time to work on my emotions.

“But – when the time is right – I know I will be a perfect suitor.

“And, as I base everything I do on that of the Victorian era, I would love to have a woman to share this with one day also.”