The Wick - Melissa Odabash The Wick - Melissa Odabash
Monday Muse

Interview Fashion Designer Melissa Odabash

Melissa Odabash
01 August 2022
Melissa Odabash
01 August 2022
Having been a former swimwear model, Melissa Odabash knows what is required to make swimwear that celebrates the female silhouette. Since launching her eponymous label and debut collection in 1999, her brand has been credited as ‘reintroducing high fashion into the swimwear world’.

Two decades on, she has a dedicated following of global travellers, a long list of high-profile stars and brands she collaborates with, and a number of awards recognising her role as a pioneer in the industry. As well as being honoured as ‘Designer of the Year’, she has received the Humanitarian Award from Future Dreams breast cancer charity, and an MBE for services to the swimwear industry and her philanthropic ventures. These include working with Fashion Targets Breast Cancer, partnering with Elton John to create an exclusive hat for his AIDS Foundation and launching her mastectomy line in 2015.

THE WICK:   Talk us through your typical Monday.

Melissa Odabash:   I wake up, have my celery juice, get on my bike to work meetings and fittings trips – I’m planning work on exclusive collections – before I finish with a walk around Hyde Park to de-stress.

TW:   Why did you decide to launch your own brand, what did you feel was missing from the swimwear market?

MO:   I started swimwear before anyone actually considered it a fashion item. I was a swimwear model and didn’t like all the glitz, the wild prints, so decided to do a chic timeless collection. That was 22 years ago now. Every brand has since added swimwear to their collections.

TW:   Who do you admire most in business?

MO:   Designers that are still going like Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Valentino, who still have the same passion as when they started and have lasted this long, as fashion is not an easy business.

TW:   What impact and legacy do you want your brand to have?

MO:   I would love to open a research library for designers as it’s not easy to source. I have so many ideas which I would love to do when I have time. I would also love to create something like TOMS shoes. Its story is so inspiring. It’s all about what you give back.

“I started swimwear before anyone actually considered it a fashion item.”

TW:   Do you feel art and fashion are linked? How are you inspired by art in your process?

MO:   It’s all the same being creative, it’s all intertwined. I love going to see art exhibitions and getting colour palette ideas or print inspiration.

TW:   Your work focuses on female empowerment. If you could have any artist wearing your creations, who would it be?

MO:   Great question, as there are so many talented artists. Cindy Sherman. I also think Tracey Emin wears my things.

TW:   What do you collect? What’s your favourite artwork in your own collection?

MO:   I love photography. It’s been my hobby since I was 17. I bought a Massimo Vitali, a beach scene, of course. It’s my favourite. I surround myself by what I love, not by the value. I also love a Wim Wenders’ photo of Naples of a beach scene. The first photo I bought was by Bruce Weber at 19. It was of hot guys, of course.

TW:   If you could own any artwork in the world, what would it be?

MO:   Probably something by Andy Warhol. I find his work bright and cheerful and think it would be something I would want to look at on my walls for many years.

TW:   Your Instagram coverage during your walks with Julien MacDonald and regular bike trips is very popular. What’s your favourite culturally curious spot in London?

MO:   I love the Barbican area. It’s like being in some kind of 1960s space movie, and Buckingham Palace and the canals that take you all the way to Greenwich.

TW:   What’s the book you most recommend to others?

MO:   Medical Medium and The Secret – one explains how our body works and how we can cure anything naturally, the other helps to have a positive attitude towards everything.

TW:   Who is your Monday Muse?

MO:   My mother will always be my muse. She is always happy, never complains and taught me style and everything I know about fashion today.

Share story
Further Information
The Wick - Interview Fashion Designer Melissa Odabash
Monday Muse

Interview Designer Lara Bohinc

The Wick - Nadya Tolokonnikova
Monday Muse

Interview Pussy Riot founder Nadya Tolokonnikova

Visual Arts
The Wick - Photography: JP Bland
Monday Muse

Interview Artist Kate MccGwire

Visual Arts
The Wick - Interview Fashion Designer Melissa Odabash
Monday Muse

Interview Broadcaster and curator June Sarpong

Visual Arts
The Wick - Rachel Wang (c) Wandsworth Council and Dominique Nok Photography
Monday Muse

Interview Social entrepreneur Rachel Wang

The Wick - Maria by Lolo Lewis Edwards
Monday Muse

Interview Assemble’s Maria Lisogorskaya