Interview: Meloni Mitchell - Wild Child



July 17th, 2013 at 08:45 PM

Hailing from Nevada desert to part-native American hippie parents, artist, model and fashion designer Meloni Mitchell as a love for partying, music and macrame. Now based in Montecarotto, and with a one way ticket to departure to the 'promised land', Meloni is a multidisciplinary, high-spirited young woman. 

She's been a Fine Art student and Fashion Design drop-out at Otis College of Art & Design in LA and has been working on her 'work-in-progress' fashion line for a while…and soon to release a jewelry line. Recently invited by us to participate in the I AM Shop, presenting her handmade one-of-a-kind T-Shirt collection. We've had a chat with this wild-rock-child, to know a bit more about her background, future plans, likes and dislikes…  

Tell us a bit about how did fashion come into your life… how did it all start and when?

Ever since I was little I have always enjoyed putting together interesting looks and dressing differently from the other kids. When I was about 10 years old, my Nana taught me how to sew. That was a huge epiphany for me because I was able to create my own clothes and also update and recycle clothes I found in thrift stores, which is still a hobby of mine. 

Plus, my Nana was always complimenting me about how well I could sew from the very beginning. She always used to say if she could sew as beautifully as me, she would be rich. That was a big motivator and although unfortunately so far it didn't work to make me rich, it did gave me a lot of confidence in my skills and all the way through high school I made myself things to wear with my heavy metal t-shirts and combat boots.

When I got a little older and couldn't find the kind of life I was looking for in the Nevada desert, I decided to move to Los Angeles and go to art college, thinking maybe that would propel me to new heights. I did one year of what I always thought of as "art school boot camp" where I learned how to survive on very little sleep, draw realistically and make things very precisely.

I went through one year of fashion design but it had too many rules for me and it was messing up my mind, so I decided to become a fashion dropout and go into fine arts and study painting and sculpture for the last two years of the four year program. That was perfect for me because there were no rules, and I could do whatever I wanted. I also felt like I was getting a much more well-rounded education about art, so it was a good decision. 

Being a model, artist and fashion designer, which of these is your greatest passion and why?

Art and fashion have always been my greatest passions. I've spent my entire life drawing, painting, making clothes, and doing any other kind of creative project I come across. I just feel good when I make things and I can't imagine my life without creating. Modeling is also a big passion for me because I feel like it is another way for me to express myself. It gets kind of addicting after a while because it's  always a new adventure and you get to meet so many new people. 

From where do you draw inspiration from when creating? 

I draw inspiration from just about everywhere. I suppose my biggest inspiration is wildness and freedom, which I find in everything from nature to art, to music and traveling.

Your T-Shirt collection, featured in our I AM Shop, is an on-going-project, so far with 21 different styles released, … what is the next step for it? How would you like to address this?

My T-Shirt collection is growing slowly but surely, and my plan is just to let it evolve naturally while adding new pieces along the way.

Meloni Mitchell's T-SHIRT Collection 

When creating your designs, do you conceive them thinking of you? or who will wear them?

Usually while I'm creating something I'm thinking about what I would like to wear, but at the same time I try not to think too much about what I am doing and instead work on instinct and do what comes naturally. All your pieces are hand-sewn, painted,… they go through a few processes which are laborious. 

Why did you take this step, and not manufacture in a work shop or production company?

The collection started as a sort of experiment to see what kind of effects I could get on fabric using different processes and hand applied techniques, so for that I had to do everything myself. Soon when I am living in a big city again, I would like to have some parts of the process done for me, because I can't stand doing the same thing over and over again. 

That is why everything I do is one of a kind. I will probably contract out the cutting and sewing of my pieces in the future. For me the painting and distressing process is the most fun and personal, … I think I will always do that part myself, or at least design the textiles myself, if something is going to be produced in a bigger quantity.

How would you like to see your line evolve in the near future?

I have a lot of new ideas that I would like to realize for my collection. My newest project is my jewelry line which is already in progress and I am very excited about it!!! My first pieces are almost ready and I will be putting them online soon. As far as business goals go, I would like to expand my client list and also sell in more shops, so that people can see, touch, and try on everything in person. 

When you can feel the fabric it is completely different from seeing it in a photo, but I try to convey at least the general atmosphere of the pieces through my photos on my website and online shop.

Do you take the fashion design as a personal project? Or would you like for it to become more commercial? 

For now it is a personal project, … I think even if someday it becomes more commercial, it will always be personal for me. I can't see myself making anything just because a bigger group of people might like it, but if people like what I'm making and it becomes more widely known, that's great.

Living in Montecarotto (Italy), what would you say are your biggest influences from here?

After living in big cities like Los Angeles, Milan, and Tokyo, living in a small town like Montecarotto has been a challenge, because although I love being in places close to nature, I also like the convenience, connections, and opportunities that big cities have to offer. 

I'd say my biggest influence here is my own imagination and the time that I have had to spend thinking of ideas and experimenting with creating things. Soon my darling husband Roberto Calbucci (he's a painter) and I, are going to move to either to NY or LA and continue our work there.

Once everything gets rolling and becomes a little more self-sufficient, we would like to move out in the middle of the country, desert, or near some secluded beach; with our future dogs, salt water swimming pool, cactus garden and vegetable garden. Away from everything, but close enough to a city to take care of business and find what we need. But for the next step I think when we get back to the city I will just be so excited to be there, so who knows what new inspiration I will find!!!

Describe yourself to us in 3 words. (Who is Meloni?)

Pure wild child.

Your biggest accomplishment? 

I think my biggest accomplishment is always finding a way and having the courage to do whatever I want to do.

Your goals and expectancies? (personal and/ or work wise)

As with most artists I know, I would like to see my work expand and grow and also grow economically so that I have more possibilities to realize new ideas and be able to make a living with my work. I'm not a "regular job" kind of girl and one of my goals in life is to never have to get one, or at least not for too long. 

I like to be able to do whatever I want, whenever I want. Of course there are always some limitations, but for the most part, if I can stay away from going to work at the same place at the same time everyday (except for my own studio of course), that is a big accomplishment.

We Are Selecters strives on music, our radio is big part of our project, it move us… Does music influence your creative process? 

Music plays a big part in my whole life. I love music and I am definitely influenced by it. Music has the power to change everything. I can be feeling totally unmotivated one minute, and put on a good song and it energizes me and suddenly I feel like I can do anything.

What are your musical tastes like? 

I'm a rock and roll girl! From the time I was born I grew up listening to classic rock from the 70s and 80s. My parents were hippies and were always having parties in our house and playing great music like the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Heart, Dire Straits, America, The Eagles, Jethro Tull...the list could go on for days. 

I had a really fun and imaginative childhood and being brought up like that I have a real sense of wildness and freedom. I still have a special connection to that music and so I still listen to it often. In high school I went through a rebellious heavy metal phase but these days I like all kinds of music as long as it moves me.

Your famous last words… 

Everything is possible.Check out Meloni Mitchell's unique T-Shirt collection in I AM Shop!