Vacation booked. Now you just need to find the perfect bathing suit. No matter where you go for inspiration – trendy style blogs, fashion magazines, your favorite celebrity’s social media – you’re likely to come across the latest designs from Melissa Odabash.
See that sexy, bright-white Venice one-piece lace-up? It demands so much of your eye’s attention that you might not immediately notice the rest of the photo. That dreamy turquoise water? All that soft, powdery sand? It’s Turks and Caicos.
So what do the two have in common? The world has plenty of beautiful beaches and no shortage of swimsuit lines. But once you’ve experienced a few, you come to understand a timeless truth: True quality stands out.
Odabash has been designing stunning bathing suits women adore since 1999, when the former model launched her eponymous label. Creating a brand with that kind of staying power in an industry that relies so heavily on here-today-gone-tomorrow trends is an impressive feat.
Yes, they look great in the catalog. But discerning women who are drawn to Odabash’s classic designs typically come back for the quality. And who doesn’t love the fit?
In recent seasons, this American-born entrepreneur has been out to prove her mastery in collections that extend beyond swimwear. Last year she added luxury beachwear, and her latest collection – Après Beach – was shot for the first time this summer at The Shore Club resort on Long Bay beach.
Odabash’s multiple collections and steady rise toward the top of the international fashion set has earned her places on more than one honored list (her recent recognitions include Designer of the Year in Paris, plus Swimwear Designer of the Year and Retailer of the Year at the London Lifestyle awards). In addition to flagship stores in London’s Notting Hill and Chelsea neighborhoods, Odabash’s products are sold in luxury department stores, boutiques and resorts across more than 50 countries including the Turks and Caicos.
Along the way she’s worked with the best in the business including renowned designer Julien Macdonald, who joined her on her TCI visit. One of her most recent joint efforts – a mastectomy swimwear line developed with breast-cancer charity Future Dreams – was inspired by her sister’s experiences.
So what makes things click for this London-based mother-of-two? We caught up with the fashion star and went looking for answers.
Q: What inspired you to take the leap from model to designer?
A: Back when I was modelling, swimwear was very much an afterthought for a lot of designers. The market now is saturated with choice, so I believe it would be very difficult nowadays for someone to have trouble to find something they love. However, at the time, that was the issue – there was nothing on the market that I found chic or elegant, so I decided to start a collection myself. I was always in fittings when I was modelling in Italy, so I learned so much about cut and fabrics which really helped me make my initial decisions when designing my first collection.
Q: Do you remember the moment you knew you had founded a successful brand?
A: Of course! I think when you start out as a designer you don’t often realize how quickly your brand can grow sometimes. I remember this moment because I had no idea this person knew who I was. Many years ago now, I received a phone call from Anna Wintour who wanted to make a private order for her holiday – I was shocked, but I knew I was finally on the map.
Q: How would you describe the woman you are designing for today? Is she any different from the woman you started designing for two decades ago?
A: Actually I don’t design differently to how I started, as I believe my strategy has been successful. I always ensure I take on the feedback at the end of the seasons to ensure I incorporate my clients’ requests into the next process. I have always chosen not to be led by trends as my clients love to invest in a swimsuit they can wear for many seasons; I still have clients who bought suits 10 years ago that have lasted them so well! Quality of fabric and fit has always been paramount and I truly believe if you maintain the integrity of which your brand is founded on then your clients will continue to be loyal.
Q: Are there elements to your design process that define the Melissa Odabash brand?
A: Designing timeless styles that are not particularly trend-led is what really does define my brand – women of almost any age can buy the collections and wear them for many seasons. It is much more about investing in a piece that makes you feel confident when you feel most vulnerable.
Q: How do you translate the style from Melissa Odabash swimsuits into ready-to-wear collections?
A: I am always traveling; throughout the year I am often living out of a suitcase. My designs often come to me out of practicality as I need my Ready-To-Wear (RTW) to suit my lifestyle; beach to shopping to cocktail party. From this need I created RTW dresses that I could pack and throw on without worrying about accessorizing as I often need to be cocktail ready at a moment’s notice. I recently shot my new Après Beach collection in the Turks & Caicos, which really highlighted how elegant and easy to wear these garments are.
Q: What parts of your 2018 collection excite you most?
A: I think my newest launch – Après Beach – as I think this actually has filled a demand that I feel all my clients were looking for. Relaxed RTW that can be easily worn in the Maldives for dinner or joining friends on a boat to even going for a lunch in town after a lazy day on the beach. They instantly dress you up without too much fuss as the print is bold so there is no need for much else, but most importantly you feel comfortable and confident.
Q: You released your second Mastectomy swimwear line with Future Dreams this year. What has this project meant to you?
A: It’s very close to my heart as my sister survived breast cancer and working with the Future Dreams team is so special. This group of women started this charity in memory of their late friends, which has gone from strength to strength over the years. They are these infectiously positive women, that, even though they have been through some very rough times, live their life to the fullest! They have all loved designing the collection to make women feel good so that they feel that nothing has changed, they can still enjoy holidays even after they lost so much confidence. This is one of the most fulfilling parts of my job as these women are all so inspiring.
Q: Designing and running a fashion company, how do you find balance for yourself?
A: A lot of spa time!! Lol – I know when to switch off and I never bring my work home and ensure weekends are just for my family. One of my favorite places to go is my home in Florida where I detox! I absolutely love it there – I spend time walking, rollerblading and it really helps reboot my energy for when I have to return back to work.
Q: What was your first impression of Turks & Caicos?
A: I was obsessed with the color of the water! I have traveled to many beaches in my time, but I have never seen turquoise waters like those in the Turks & Caicos. The most magical surrounding and it is definitely something you need to see for real. The people are also a pleasure – they introduced me to a new favorite of mine: rum punch.
Q: Can you share some of your favorite moments while in the Turks & Caicos? Favorite island activities?
A: I love water sports and I was shown a coast line which is perfect for water sports like windsurfing. I do also like a little bit of paddle boarding whilst I test out my new sports luxe line, however one of my favorite locations has to be the terrace at The Palms – in the evening I loved having a cocktail surrounded by the beautiful lighting! The perfect way to unwind after such a relaxing day.
Q: Any recommendations for packing for a Turks & Caicos holiday?
A: Of course! Lots of Melissa Odabash bikinis, a good sunblock because the weather is perfect and a wonderful book so you can set yourself up on a sun lounger in front of one of the world’s most beautiful back drops.