Design Talk: An Interview with Melissa Vu

Melissa Vu is a local San Francisco designer with a creative eye for classic style. She launched Any One in November 2010 to showcase her designs. Described as an experiment shaped by daily experiences and interactions, each piece in the collection tells a story-- a story that is unique to the wearer of the garment and the histories that he or she brings to its styling. She effortlessly combines her lived encounters with a dynamic creative energy to produce her Spring 2011 Collection. I was so happy to have had the chance to interview Melissa about her inspiration as a designer and artist.

How did you get into fashion design?
My interest in fashion stems from magazine culture. There was a time when I had stacks of assorted magazines in my room. Among those stack were fashion magazines with amazing editorials, which further imprinted my interest in clothing. I have always been fascinated by fashion but never made clothing until I received a sewing machine a few years ago.

What was the first thing you learned to design?
I made a skirt that played with the idea of combing both asymmetrical and symmetrical design. It was 30 pieces and took me two months to finish from drafting it to installing the zipper at the end. People ask me if I would do it again, I say yes.
When did you launch Any One?
Any One launched in mid November 2010-- Fall time, my favorite time.

What is your philosophy about the art of fashion?
The art of fashion means many things to me. Ultimately, I feel like the art of fashion isn't about a face, garment, or image. I'm still learning about this art. I feel it most gratifying when a concept is executed and evokes moods and thoughts in a way that hits beneath the surface, which is tricky because there are so many perspectives of fashion.

Describe your current collection.
The current collections calls for sophistication but is also edgy, fun, and entirely approachable.

What is your favorite piece in the current collection?
My favorite piece are the Afrikana pants. They are fun to wear and the materials used (silk and suede) flow so nicely with the design.

What inspired the design on this piece?
For the first collection of clothing I wanted to make pants that anyone could wear. They were inspired by the shape and fit that both men and women in African culture would wear. They don't confine the body or mind, which is what I love about them.

Any One transcends gender, meaning many of the pieces can be worn by both men and women. What inspired this design choice?
I have a huge appreciation for men's fashion. I go back and forth between men's and women's clothing, and as a woman it can be difficult to wear men's clothing because of the fit. Close people in my life who have expressed frustrations with clothing today also inspired my yearn to make something new for everyone. I feel like people get discouraged about clothing for various reasons. I am inspired to give them a reason to understand clothing more and feel great in the clothing they wear.
Tell me a little bit about the photography on your website. Who is the model? Where were the photographs shot? How do these pictures represent Any One?
Jeff Enlow, a friend and talented photographer, did an amazing job. I wanted to keep everything as minimal and bare as possible. We shot onsite near my neighborhood in the Mission District in San Francisco. The styling in the photographs present the clothing a way that could be worn in different ways by different individuals. The model is a simple representation of that. His character is young, charming--both delicate and strong.

Do you have a personal soundtrack or favorite album that you listen to when designing?
It's funny because I have been listening to a bunch of anything from Black Sabbath to throwback Biggie.  It really depends on my mood. I try not to play anything too dancey sometimes because I'll end up dancing and not getting anything done. Lately, I've been listening to Vin Reiley's voice in The Durutti Column's work, it's so beautiful.

What area of your work do you enjoy most?
I enjoy designing and styling a lot. There is a lot of trial and error and technical work in designing, which works my brain in one way. Styling exercises a different part of my brain entirely differently.

What area is a difficult aspect of your job?
I would say having only one body to do everything from design to production can get crazy at times because there are always a million things to do in creative direction for the online project. It gets crazy, but crazy can be good, no?

How would your describe your personal style?
I personally like to wear things that are simple and make sense. Even if I walk out the door wearing a piece that is seemingly outrageous, as long as it makes sense and feels amazing, it's alright by me. I like to not only focus on clothing but also great accessories. I love awesome eyewear, great hair, the perfect dress, shoes, trousers, and collared shirts. I believe in minimal wardrobe. I am still working on that one.

 Photographs 1,2,3 courtesy of Melissa Vu. All other photographs by Jeff Enslow.


Courtney :

Beautiful and insightul to read! Another great post! xx

Abi :

Such an insightful interview. I like how honest her answers are.

Ioana Liliana :

Really fun photos, and the interview's great!


Winnie :

I love reading about new designers so this was a really great interview and finding out about her inspirations/how she started out.

jess :

Great interview.

amy :

I love her style. It's very unique and refreshing!

Your blog is always blossomed in a dreamland

love amy ^.^

Nicole✗✗ :

Such a wonderful interview!!

lolita :

awesome pictures great blog x