10 MINUTES WITH...MELISSA ODABASH
This weekend just gone marked Spring Equinox and with the start of Spring comes the promise of lighter days, warmer temperatures and this year it carries something else, some much needed hope of brighter times. What better moment to release our latest '10 Minutes With'. This lady is no stranger to warmer climes and her gorgeous designs go just as hand in hand with sunshine as a glass of rosé does. Who are we talking about?! Well let me grab a glass of Whispering Angel as we talk to none other than model turned swimwear designer to the stars....
THE BEAUTIFUL & HUGELY TALENTED MELISSA ODABASH
Melissa probably needs no introduction...her swimwear is distributed in over 50 countries worldwide, features in over 500 stores including many of the most exclusive hotels in the world and her designs have been worn by virtually every A list female celebrity; Beyoncé, Cindy Crawford, Kendall Jenner, Eva Longoria, Rhianna and The Duchess of Cambridge, to name just a few, have all been spotted wearing Melissa's elegant & timeless designs.
Melissa has homes in both West London and Palm Beach, Florida. She lives with her husband Nicolas and two daughters, Alaia and Avalon. She grew up in New Jersey and subsequently lived and worked as a swimwear model in Italy for many years. This experience equipped her with a real sense of what women want from both their swim & beach wear. Melissa launched her debut collection in 1999 and her brand swiftly grew to epitomise the glamour and sophistication at the heart of a luxury lifestyle brand. British Vogue was quick to name her designs as ‘The Ferraris of the bikini world' and they became must have items for the distinguished global traveller.
To date, Melissa has been honoured with awards in London & Paris such as ‘Designer of the Year’, ‘Swimwear Designer of the Year’ and ‘Retailer of the Year'. She has also been bestowed the honour of receiving the 'Founder Award' from the Women Inspiration & Enterprise and the 'Humanitarian Award' from Future Dreams, a charity dedicated to raising funds, providing support and awareness to those touched by breast cancer. She now lives in West London with her husband Nicolas and two daughters, Alaia and Avalon.
So let's chat to this legendary lady...
AK - How did you transition from swimwear model to swimwear designer & business owner?
MO - I was modelling a lot of swimwear at the time and couldn't find anything I really wanted. It led to me designing a small collection that I wanted to wear myself and then pretty quickly my model friends started asking to buy the designs. It really grew from there into retail stores and now being a brand that is accessible to buy worldwide.
AK - What advice would you give to women in business?
MO - Stay focused & don't give up!
AK - What elements are most important to you when designing swimwear & where do you draw your inspiration from?
MO - The key to my designs are to make them high quality timeless pieces that can adapt to all body types. My travels inspire my designs...the things I see, the cultures I experience and the people I meet. I get inspired by everything around me.
AK - Who has been your favourite person to collaborate with?
MO - Julien Macdonald as he's my best friend so we can travel the world promoting our collaborative designs while having fun.
AK - What's been your biggest 'pinch me' moment?
MO - Two stand out...when I realised Anna Wintour knew my brand. She had her assistant personally call to order ten swimsuits for herself and a lot for her daughter as well. I was in complete shock! A couple of years ago I felt very honoured to be one of four women invited to a CEO summit in Marbella to meet Barack Obama. Of all the people I’ve met, Barack is the most fascinating and it was a surreal moment to spend time with him.
AK - You turned 50 last April, how did you mark the milestone and what if anything has changed for you as you’ve got older?
MO - If anything I think I act even more immature! According to my husband nothing about the way I am has changed other than perhaps being just more laid back about work challenges.
AK - You are not only in incredible shape but also look very youthful, what do you do for fitness and what is your beauty routine?
MO - I eat really healthily, organic whole foods and I'm mostly vegan. I jogged for years & now I cycle everywhere. I also use a lot of sunblock and I'm really happy which I think is something you can see.
AK - You’ve noted Italy as your favourite travel destination, where’s your favourite spot and tell us a little about why Italy is so important to you?
MO - I lived in Italy for years so its like my home away from home. I love Capri as its just beyond stunning; great food, great looking people, loads of style and no cars so you walk everywhere....perfect!
AK - There aren’t many celebrities left that haven’t got a piece of your swimwear, royalty included, why do you think you’ve been such a hit with celebrities and indeed every day women all over the world?
MO - I'm very lucky with celebs but I have worked with them and they all come back year after year. It's all about how you feel and my swimsuits are the perfect cut so it's a little like jeans, when you find something that fits you well you always return to that brand again and again.
AK - Any celebrities that you are particularly fond of in your swimwear?
I love it when anyone chooses my designs and they all look great. I love celebrities that spend time being philanthropic. Giving back is really important to me.
AK - You’ve seen a lot of the world with your job, where’s left on your bucket list?
Japan I've never been.
AK - Giving back as you’ve mentioned is a key cornerstone of your business and own belief system, tell us a little about your charity endeavours and why this is important to you?
Well I'm involved in so many (Melissa has supported charities such as WellChild, Elton John’s AIDS Foundation & The Prince’s Trust to name just a few) and I believe you're only as good as what you give back. I don’t think I've ever said no to a single charity. I am an ambassador for many but Future Dreams, a breast cancer charity, is so important to me. I developed a swimwear range for women that had undergone breast cancer surgery as I don’t want any woman to feel different on holiday whether they have breasts or not. Holidays are our happy times and every woman should be able to experience those happy memories and moments, feeling confident and empowered.
AK - How has motherhood changed you?
MO - I'm obsessed with my girls, I just enjoy every minute with them and they teach me things everyday. They take me away from problems at work and they are grounding, my reality. In my business there's a lot of superficial snobbery around so its nice to have normality when I'm with my family.
AK - What has the pandemic taught you?
MO - That I don’t need to live on a plane flying around the world non stop. The first lockdown was the first time in 23 years I actually took a break!
AK - What’s does the next 3 years hold for Melissa Odabash personally and professionally?
MO - Hopefully lots of new collections, collaborations & new projects.
AK - And finally, and I know you have a lovely jewellery collection yourself, what’s your favourite piece of Abbot Kinney style?
MO - I love absolutely anything gold....nothing looks better in the sunshine!
To shop Melissa's beautiful designs, click on the following links:
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