Meet Celebrity Stylist and Abstract Artist, Melissa Laskin! With years of experience in the fashion industry, she has used her creativity and gift to create a masterpiece called, elvislaskin. Let’s see what Melissa has to share with us on her journey through the fashion world, and developing her brand!
Who is Melissa Laskin?
I am an abstract artist who likes to dabble in a lot of different aspects of fashion. I have been painting since the age of 2, and have been sewing since 12 years old, starting on my grandmothers singer sewing machine. That’s what started my fashion career…being able to express myself by making my own clothes. I went to school and got a degree in fashion, worked a year as an assistant designer, and then designed custom apparel on my own.
I am also an animal lover. I was going to be a vet before fashion school, but when I found out I would have to operate on animals, I decided to dedicate myself financially to animal causes. My ultimate goal has always been to build an animal sanctuary, another “Best Friends” to save as many creatures as I can.
As a fashion stylist, what is your number one goal when working with a client or on a project?
My number one goal when styling depends on what projects I am working on. Editorial..I can push the envelope, and create whatever I want, as that is the goal of a magazine. In advertising, I can also push the envelope if I am working with a fashion forward company. I have done many hair campaigns, and they tend to always want creativity, as opposed to a client that wants to not have the clothes stand out; they want their brands to take center stage.
I normally get hired to be edgier, and more creative, and have designed several campaigns myself. I am there to bring my ideas to life, and to get all on board with my vision. It was my idea to make Anna Nicole into Marilyn Monroe, by using the white pleated dress she was famous for, and making it red for the Trimspa campaign. It was awhile ago, but when I came up with the idea, it was it. Done.
With musicians, I can create a new image for them, celebs tend to not push the envelope as much. Commercials, are like advertising. If I get a fun one, then I am hired for creating the unusual.
Thus far, what has been your most memorable experience while working as a celebrity stylist?
My most fun job, was actually working with Emily Mortimer, a British actress. We shot in a castle above Los Feliz, and I had a huge living room to lay out vintage and current pieces, millions of dollars in jewelry, guards. With each wardrobe change, I would grab a group of pieces and say, “Put this on first, this second, and layer up,” til’ I had it all on. She was amazing, because she became the character, and loved what she was wearing, and it was great for me, because it was the ultimate in creativity.
Keith Urban was another great gig for me years ago, because I sent him huge boxes of clothes every 3 weeks for 2 years, and he was always on the Best Dressed list for country singers. It got back to me that a lot of other singers wanted to dress like him, because he was out of the box at that time, and not dressing like everyone else. Those stood out for me career-wise.
Working with big names like, Brad Pitt, Will Smith, and Hilary Swank, do you notice a difference in working with celebrities, as opposed to other clients?
It is always different dressing a celeb than a model. I have the celeb to please ultimately. Otherwise, I am pleasing mostly myself, and the photographer, or director. Magazine editors are not always on set for a shoot, so thats where discussions of what they want accomplished, plus my styling is what is required. For an ad…I work with the art directors.
What is Melissa Laskin’s signature style and how do you translate it into your work?
My signature style changes by the minute. Once I have done something once, I am on to the next. I get hired to be creative, so I always like to bring something new to the table. If I am in a costume house and find something cool, or want to put a strapless gown on over one of my tees, with cool platform shoes that don’t match…that is the fun in my job.
How do you implement style and fashion into your every day life?
In my everyday life, honestly, most stylists I know as well as myself, dress comfortably. I get all of my creativity out while working, so I tend to wear my own clothing line when going out. Other than that, it’s jeans and tees.
Introduce us to elvislaskin..
elvislaskin is named after my boy kitty Elvis. It is all lower case run together as one name, and it came about because I was out shopping one day and couldn’t find any new cool tees. I always wanted to have a t-shirt line, and was painting a lot at the time, so I thought if I took my own abstract paintings and copyrighted them, printed them on basic styles to show off the artwork, that I would be able to do everything I love all at the same time. I could actually paint everyday, and love designing, as I have designed a lot of styling projects I have worked on, so the line was born. I give a percentage of my profits to animal charities.
It’s a lot having to run two “empires,” so to speak, but I love what I do. I get to express myself in all of my favorite ways. I have always believed that people should live their passion as their work or job or what they do everyday.
What is the inspiration behind many of your uniquely designed pieces?
My inspiration for elvislaskin always starts with the art. Then I tweak things so that they are not symmetrical, I am the asymmetrical queen, I always say! I like things off a bit. Even drives me crazy, hence the abstracts. They are art, and are printed on many different fabrications, making each a surprise for me when I see them finished. Each collection is based on the art, and then the season.
You’ve been in the game for a while, as a veteran with 15 years under your belt. Watching fashion change over the years, who has been your favorite designer to watch evolve?
My fav designers are Vera Wang, Rick Owens, Balenciaga, Alexander Wang, and really any Japanese designer. I like them all for different reasons. Different aesthetics, and feminine, and edgy, and cool, and pushing the envelope, like Yamamota.
Taking on your journey to success in the fashion industry, what are a few challenges you have had to overcome?
I really have had most of my challenges with the designing end. I have had to learn a whole new way of communication, or way of working differently. When you have a deadline with a styling job, things get done, or the participants in the various roles would not be hired to go for round two.
In the apparel business, contractors have their own schedules, called late, so you must adjust to make deadlines. With all of the different cogs in the wheels, time is the hardest adjustment I have had to learn to make.
In overcoming those obstacles and becoming a stronger woman, what advice do you have for those who are trying to work their way to the top in such a competitive industry?
In styling, you have to just keep evolving, try to read between the lines, and always bring much more than what you need to a shoot, or bring people around to your way of thinking..expand their horizons.
Manufacturing..I am still working on that one myself. Leaning new things everyday.
Persistence, never giving up, not taking things personally, learning the politics of each profession, and how to work with the variety of different personalities is key to making it through everyday; on styling and designing.
Where can we keep up with you and view your works?
Melissa is a very driven and hardworking woman, whom anyone in the fashion industry can learn from. Through her challenges, to evolving in her artistry and career, Melissa has changed the game immensely. Bringing originality to each project she has taken part in, she has left her mark!
We all are capable of leaving our own mark in the industry. Remember to be versatile. As Melissa mentioned, learn how to work with different people and personalities, as well as be flexible in creativity. Be persistent, work hard, never give up!