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Mar 4, 2011

Interview with: Melissa Laskin artist/designer for elvislaskin

Known and adored by many Hollywood A-listers for years, stylist turned designer, Melissa Laskin is making a name for herself on a level that spans well beyond the realms of tinseltown. After an unfortunate car accident, Melissa transformed herself into a contemporary artist/luxury designer. Celebs such as Mya, Courtney Cox, Amber Rose, and Bai Ling love her clothing line elvislaskin (which was named after her beloved cat) and you will too.

What makes elvislaskin unique is that the line features Melissa’s abstract artwork and pairs it with her keen sense of Hollywood style. Each painting is made by mixing metallic and fluorescent paints with acrylics and Melissa’s own special technique. She then transfers the print onto T-shirts and dresses - resulting in a variety of hip, cool apparel that the artist/designer refers to as wearable art.

BM: You started out as a stylist. Are you still styling?

A bit. I don’t really have as much time as I used to.

BM: How did you get into styling?

I started out tailoring all of the covers for GQ for 3 years and then moved up the ranks!

BM: Fashion changes every season, and it’s easy to understand why it takes skill to give great guidance on style. What is the best piece of fashion advice you have ever given?

It’s actually what I tell everyone…”Don’t be a slave to fashion. Wear what looks good on you.”

BM: What inspired you to make the transition into fashion design?

Actually, I have wanted to do a t-shirt line for the past 10 years. I just couldn’t do two full careers at once. I was in a car accident and while I was recuperating from a couple back/neck surgeries I started painting and then the line evolved from there.

BM: How did the name for your company come about?

My boy kitty Elvis…he is such a rock star. I call him my kid-cat.

BM: You have a very unique approach to creating your clothing. Can you describe the process?

I paint whatever I am in the mood for on any given day and then draw up a collection of bodies and pick which painting I want to see on which design and then have them printed on.

BM: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I have inspiration coming out of my ears! I can paint until the cows come home and creating just comes to me. It’s like styling…either you are very creative and unique or you’re not.

BM: What is currently on your inspiration board?

I am doing the fall line right now, so darker paintings will be in the works as well as longer sleeves. I am doing part tees, part dresses.

BM: Describe the woman you typically design for?

Actually, I design for the people I used to dress in entertainment…the woman who wants something that no one else has. I always had to be one step ahead of the crowd because no one in music or acting wants to look like anyone else. That’s what is so great about me controlling my product. All of my designs are copyrighted and such become wearable art.

BM: Did any celebrities or stylist pick up any of your dresses or tops at the Grammy Style Studio?

Yes…Amber Rose, Jaimie Hilfiger, Jaala Pickering (a British actress just starting Season 2 of True Blood), Martine Bury (editor in chief of 944 magazine), and I have had several stylist pulls this past week.

BM: I heard CariDee English is a fan of elvislaskin. How did the two of you meet?

I met her in a showroom where stylists go to pull clothes for their jobs…like myself, and she loved my tees so she became the face of my line. And, such a beautiful face and spirit she has.

BM: Do you think art, fashion, and music influence each other?

Absolutely. They all intertwine. I know when I paint I have the tunes blasting and since I am an artist as well as a designer…for my line that is the definition.

BM: The fashion industry is a tough business to break into. What was your big break?

Getting into the Golden Globes and Grammy Styling Studios. I have been shipping my product since November, but the buzz really started around awards time thanks to Heath and Jim - my PR team.

BM: Speaking of breaks, you also had a feature in Italian Vogue. How did that come about?

It came about from my previous PR about 8 months ago.

BM: Can you share some of your favorite places to shop?

Maxfields, H.Lorenzo, and Bleu.

BM: What has being a designer taught you?

I went to school for design and have had that mind set for half of my life. Actually, doing the business is much harder than anyone would imagine. Finding the right sales force, factory, and PR has taken a long time.

BM: What advice do you have for designers that are getting started in the business?

Keep at it even when you think you want to give up, and if it is meant to be then you will be noticed. Be creative and have a different voice. That will make your product unique.
For more on elvislaskin visit:

Interview by Nikki Neil, Photos courtesy of Elvis Laskin


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