As a special treat for the holiday season Nashville based fashion and accessory designer, Melissa Tabor, is Scene of Style’s featured Women of style. I have mentioned several of Melissa’s designs throughout the blog and find her creations refreshingly simple with an element of refined elegance. The tweed dress featured left is my personal favorite but I would truly welcome any of her pieces into my wardrobe. So how did she find herself in the enviable position of a fashion designer? Read on:-
Melissa is an inspiration to anyone wanting to forge a career in the world of fashion design. While studying Fashion Merchandising at the University of Alabama she discovered a passion for sewing and making her own patterns and garments. Melissa took an internship at Gucci in New York where astonishingly after a month she was promoted to the Head of Gucci Client Services assisting celebrity clients and their stylists. A position within the Giorgio Armani empire on Madison Avenue soon followed, an experience she describes as “the most amazing, challenging and surreal of my life”.
In pursuant of further education she headed to the University of Fashion Design and Marketing at the American Intercontinental University in Atlanta and knuckled down to the fundamentals of design. Another internship beckoned and this turned out to be Melissa’s dream experience – an opportunity to work with her personal hero – Oscar de la Renta at the prestigious 7th Avenue address in New York. After working on the Spring/Summer fashion collection of that season she returned to Atlanta to finish her education. During the final fashion show featuring her graduation class she was awarded the esteemed Presidents Choice Award for the design of one of her dresses. With the reputation and experience she had now amassed and the inspiration gained from fashion’s greats, Melissa established herself as a designer in her own right with the launch of her line ‘Melissa Tabor’.
In 2009 Melissa took a huge leap of faith and relocated to Nashville better known as the ‘music city’ in the USA, which has massively paid off. To date she has launched her first Nashville based line of which information can be found at her beautifully designed website, www.melissatabor.com and has already been picked up by a Nashville boutique for 2011. You can currently order Melissa’s designs at www.etsy.com/shop/melissatabor
CL. Firstly Melissa, thank you for taking time out from your busy schedule to offer your thoughts on fashion and style. How would you define your style?
MT. I consider my personal style to be across the board. There is nothing I love more than getting really dressed up – a beautiful dress, heels and elaborate accessories. On the other end, some of my favourite pieces are really great knit basics such as timeless pieces that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. A great black oversized sweater with leggings and a pair of great wedges is most likely what you would see me in most.
CL. How do you incorporate this into your designs?
MT. There is nothing better than comfortable chic, in my opinion, but I have always considered my designs to be more of my alter ego – a throw back to the times when women dressed up for every occasion. I love the picture I have in my mind of women in the 40’s and 50’s who wore hats and heels while running the simplest of errands. I really think that I will always design for this women.
CL. So is it the bygone era’s that inspire you?
MT. I try to find inspiration wherever I can. From my friends (I have some really stylish ones!) to old movies. I have noticed lately that my biggest inspiration is street style. I love blogs that feature this like Tumblr from which you can gain such inspiration by seeing how people piece their looks together. I really love taking that in and adding it to my collection.
CL. Who is your personal favourite designer and/or brand?
MT. There are so many designers that I really love but I have to say that Oscar de la Renta is my choice of high-end women’s wear designer. His creations are absolutely timeless and the fit of his garments unmatchable. I also love the newer designers like Roland Mouret and Olivier Theyskens whose design aesthetics are so modern yet, have such a taste of old world. As I have mentioned some of my go-to items are amazing knit basics so in this genre Vince would have to be my number 1 choice and I also have a fondness for Elizabeth and James whose dresses and tops to their shoes are so beautiful and have such great detail.
CL. Accessories can really stamp individuality on a look. You design unique accessories incorporating vintage finds such as antique rhinestones, buckles and brooches. Do you have a personal favorite accessory?
MT. A great question and impossible for me to answer so I will name a few starting with headwear:- a black knit turban I purchased on Etsy.com that I am in love with. Whenever I wear it I feel like a different person, it is so chic and such a fun accessory. A huge chunky grey scarf my talented mother knitted last year which can double as a shawl. I wear it tucked under my winter coats or draped across my shoulders while lounging on my sofa. My black Chloe bag – I fawned over this bag for a year which is rectangular shaped with a doctors style to it and made of the most unbelievable leather. I have had it for 4 years and it goes with my most casual look and even cocktail dresses. I have gotten more use out of it than anything else in my closet and I feel it gets more beautiful with wear.
CL. I have a similar relationship with my chloe bag so I relate! Dare I ask about shoes?
MT. Oh! How do I pick my favourite shoes? Hm. I guess I would have to say my Chloe clogs. They are the brown leather, lace up clogs from about 4 years ago. I cannot even put into words how much I love these shoes as they compliment jeans or a great sweater dress and tights…….they are the most perfect shoes ever! Also – you can’t beat a great pair of riding boots and my dream is to one day own a classic Hermes in brown, but for now, I am very happy with my black Bronx riding boots.
CL. What was the last thing you bought?
MT. Black skinny BGD jeans from Urban Outfitters. I really like their jeans which have an amazing fit and are so reasonably priced. I have been on a very black kick recently and every season when I clear out my closet, purging all the non-necessities, I find that the things that remain are my great black pieces including knits to coats to dresses. Black is so constant and classic I know it will remain in my closet for years.
CL. What would you consider your biggest fashion flaw?
MT. A tough one! I might have to go with flip-flops which I usually buy at the beginning of Spring each year and are worn so much that I have to throw them out at the end of the summer. In my defense there is nothing more comfortable on the planet and at least I buy cute ones such as the Gap metallic ones I have recently disposed of!
CL. Speaking of flip-flops what 3 items are must-haves for vacations?
MT. A great pair of jeans, Comfortable yet great shoes like wedge style ankle booties and a cardigan. Cardigans whether cashmere or cotton can be worn with everything and really look great for all occasions. All of these items pack up nicely and are comfortable and chic.
CL. What advice can you offer Scene of Style readers on fashion shopping?
MT. Do what feels right! Try not to pay too much attention to trends – just because it is the hot thing right now doesn’t mean its right for you. On the other end trust your instinct to go with a piece that you love, and you know you look great in, whether it is considered ‘trendy’ or not. Who knows, you may be a trendsetter.
CL. Great advise Melissa. Lastly can you leave us with the personal ethos which you live by?
MT. Love life. It will always be worth it. I think this goes into my work as it does into my personal life. The road will have many ups and downs but keep your head up and your eye on the goal and it will be worth every bit of struggle in the end.