Tell me about your design background?
I never studied fashion, design and creativity was just something in our family DNA. I come from a very entrepreneurial background, so it has always been in my blood to want to create something of my own. I have always loved Fashion. It lets you express yourself without having to say a word. It’s the creativity that I adored growing up and designing meant I could be creative with fashion, so it was combining two things I loved greatly.
What was your first handbag?
It was a wicker basket from Sicily (the bag that inspired the Thela!) and after that a bag from Fioruccio!
What led you to setting up your own label?
Looking back I just went for it. I have always been a total creative and an avid bag lover; It’s one of those things you can enjoy wearing as a fashion statement to update your outfit without having to change your whole look and can totally make or break and outfit. Growing up in the Aeolian Islands, the women in the villages would carry all of their belongings in these big wicker baskets. I wanted something pretty to carry myself, so I adopted a basket of my own! As time went by and I got older, I decided I needed to update the basket but keep some of the original design as heritage to my past on the Island. I created my first design and just ran with it. At first I was so scared, to leave my career in PR and become a designer was a big step for me…Luckily people loved it! I was very lucky to have the support of my family; they have a real entrepreneurial nature and believe anyone can achieve their dream if they give it all they have. It’s a scary thing as a young designer not knowing how someone will perceive a collection but I wouldn’t change a thing.
Tell us about the signature handles?
I love fashion but I’m practical. My handles mean that if you’re on the go or in a rush the bag just sits comfortably and elegantly on your arm without falling off or twisting around. The way in which you hold it becomes effortless, in an Audrey Hepburn, subtly glamorous way. The handles fit to your body, not your body fitting to them. The bag then becomes part of you. Meli Melo is the only handbag with these inverted handles and, although I am the designer and therefore biased to my own designs, I don’t know how people carry a bag without them! The way they bridge over your arm is so comfortable.
Who was the first celebrity you saw carrying one of your bags?
Sienna Miller wore the fringed Bono Bon bag which has become a meli melo classic. It was right at the beginning of my career so it felt amazing to have someone so influential in both style and demeanour, carrying the bag. It gave me confidence in my designs when I was doing everything myself.
Olivia Palermo is a huge fan of yours. What do you like about how she wears your bags?
Her style is totally effortless, so to see her carrying a bag, making it look like she’s carried one forever, is always wonderful. She wears the Thela bag in Tan and Taupe as well as the Mini Backpack in Dusty Pink Mongolian. It’s great to see how she styles my classic pieces against my more trend led designs.
Who would you love to see carrying your designs?
From the vintage era Farah Fawcett with our fringed Tallulah and in the modern day I’d like Kate Upton to carry one of my designs! She’s so natural and confident.
What will we always find in your handbag?
Karen Walker Sunglasses, a bottle of water, my hourglass bronzer and my Liberty Print Notebook.
Describe the Meli Melo woman?
Chic, up to date and confident with a love of travel and eye for unique treasures!
Do you style your outfits around your bag?
Sometimes yes, if I am wearing one of my more trend lead styles I will opt for neutral toned clothing so the accessories can do the talking! Accessories can make or break an outfit though so I usually see my bags as adding that something extra, making my look more personal. You can wear a plain outfit but the accessories can make it really chic without having to try.
What's your most popular style?
The Thela bag in Taupe and Tan. These are the classic colours so that’s definitely a factor as you can wear them with anything. Also because it’s one of the first bags, it’s the one the celebs love to carry as it’s so practically stylish. It’s amazing for travelling as it’s so relaxed yet you can fit such a lot in the bag without it looking bulky. It’s perfect for a jet setting lifestyle!
What's next for you?
It’s all go go go at the moment. Hopefully more stores on the cards and some great collaborations on the way, which will be release later this year!
Check out the collection at MeliMelo.com
By Chloe Mac Donnell / @tweetchloe