Natasha talks to Melissa Odabash, former model for top Italian designers, mother to two beautiful daughters and swimwear designer to celebrities around the world.
Melissa, who started designing swimwear herself because the stuff she was having to wear was ‘hideous’, created her very first bikinis by hand! This incredible woman now sells in 48 countries. By Natasha Claydon
What did you do this morning?
Struggled out of bed, put the kids on the bus, went for a jog, and cleared out my 8 year old daughter’s wardrobe to give her hand-me-downs to my managers’ daughters. Drank my Raw Fairies shake and came to work.
(I discover that a Raw Fairies shake is a raw food smoothie – part of a raw food diet which Melissa says is amazing for great skin. I decide to try one first thing in the morning!)
Who inspires you?
Pretty much everyone who is an entrepreneur. Someone like one of my great friends Natalie Massenet who set up Net-a-porter around the same time that I started. She was one of my first clients. And my mother who has better style than I will ever have.
How would you describe your earlier career?
- Modelling helped me understand what women were looking for and what works and doesn’t work. I would listen to the buyers and see what choices they made so it helped when I started out with swimwear. I started with swimwear because the stuff I was having to wear on shoots was hideous!
What has been your defining moment?
I guess when Anna Wintour from Vogue called the office about 8 years ago and asked to have my swimsuits sent direct to her house for her and her children. I didn’t know she even knew I existed!
What makes this all worthwhile for you?
What's your favourite item of clothing in your wardrobe?
Giving women confidence and seeing my designs all over the world, even in the strangest of places…at least I know I am doing something right.
(I find myself smiling as we speak. To me Melissa is refreshingly humble)
My jeans. I can’t live without jeans. For me they are the most comfortable item of clothing and I have about 30 pairs. I have serious jean OCD. I used to shop in all the vintage jean shops in Miami for my favourite jeans. One day I was in Rome and decided to wash all my jeans. I hung them out to dry while I went out. When I came back someone had stolen all of them.
(Note to self: must call my jean obsessed sister, Donné, to let her know that her jean obsession is actually quite normal)
How does American swimsuit style differ from swimsuit style in Europe?
I started when I was living in Rome so my style is much more Italian than American and I still produce there. American’s are much more conservative where Europeans are much more glam. Europeans love long kaftans and the all over look. They want the runway look…to go from the beach, to the boat and then straight into town.
Do you have a hidden talent?
I love cutting hair and love interiors.
In December 2011 Melissa collaborated with Julien Macdonald on a range that she describes as ‘very glam and over the top’.
Melissa’s latest swimsuit collection is online now.
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