INTERVIEW: Melissa Odabash

Mode City Paris will honour Melissa Odabash with the title of Designer of the Year this season. Ahead of the show, the renowned swimwear designer talks about how it feels to be recognised and jokes that she wants trade show organisers to make her a crown.

How do you feel about being named Designer of the Year by Mode City?
I think it’s a huge achievement. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time, so it’s just a nice pat on the back for the 15 years I’ve been in business.

What process did the organisers go through to select you as the winner?
I actually have no idea. I’ve been showing in Paris for at least ten years and I think they see that the brand is growing like crazy, so I guess each year they narrow it down to five of us and I guess they have a panel and they chose me this year.

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Why did you stand out from the other brands?
I’m not sure. I think I’ve been consistent for the past few years and my company has been growing quite fast each year. I’ve very loyal customers, and a very big celebrity following, and I just think people are more aware of the brand now because I sell in 50 countries. So I think it’s about more brand awareness. I guess they just noticed it more this year.

How have you been able to achieve the level of success you have as a swimwear designer?
I think I’m very grounded. I don’t try and be too creative; I want women to feel confident. Women are very insecure when it comes to swimwear or beachwear anyway, so if you can make a woman feel good by hiding her bad parts and accentuating her good parts, that’s already an achievement.

What are your expectations for Mode City, Paris this year?
Well I can see that already people are pre-booking their appointments with us…and I did tell them that I want a crown for winning. So, I’m hoping that I get a crown – that’s what I’m looking forward to! No, I just hope that we have a really good year. I’m off to go and shoot the campaign and I just came back from opening the Grand Prix Fashion Show
in Monaco.

How successful was that?
It was amazing, amazing, amazing. Justin Beiber came, as well as Labyrinth and Prince Albert…we had a huge celebrity turn out. It was really, really great. It was in all the newspapers too.

Which new collections will be bringing to the show?
I’ll be launching my sports luxe line, which is made using high-end, fast drying swim fabric, zippers and fishnets. I’ll also take a bag collection and I’ll be launching and my next SS15 collection, which has a lot more cover-ups. Everything will be much more colour coordinated, so you’ll always have your matching bikini with your matching kaftan. I’ve noticed that more and more people want the whole outfit.

Where did your inspirations come from for your SS15 collection?
There’s no one specific place; I travel round the world and every time I’ve been to a different place I come up with ideas. So it’s kind of a combination of five different trips, from holidays or going to vintage markets. For some of my garments, I’ve found vintage prints and reworked them.

Can you tell us more about your mastectomy swimwear range that you’ll be launching in October for Breast Cancer Awareness month?
It’s not ready yet, so I can’t really tell you too much about that yet –we’re still working on that.

Do you plan to expand on this area of swimwear in the future?
Oh yeah, if it works and I can understand it. It’s more complicated than people think. It sounds like everybody has the same thing, but everybody has a different issue after having breast surgery. I’ve been speaking to all different women to see how we can work it the best and if it works, yeah, I’d love to give back. My sister had breast cancer and she’s fine, thank god, but it’s a good charity to work for. If I can raise awareness then I’m happy to do anything.

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