“I have seen all, I have heard all, I have forgotten all.” – Maria Antoinette
It is said that Marie Antoinette’s happiest memories came from the times she spent playing a shepherdess at the Palace of Versailles. She had a special flower farm build as a retreat from court life at the Palace. Here Maria surrounded by a select group of nobles would wear couture gowns, and frolic innocently amongst the flowers with their beautifully groomed sheep.
For me, designer Melissa Bui’s dresses perfectly capture that special care free attitude that Maria Antoinette crafted at Versailles. When you wear them, you feel like you are free from the burdens of the World, surrounded by endless grace and beauty. In a world increasingly cluttered with things demanding our undivided attention, it is truly lovely to be able to escape for a moment into a haven of elegance…
Melissa Bui, Practically Magic
Justin Howard for Black Chalk : What does fashion mean to you?
Melissa Bui : Fashion to me, is a form of expression. The same piece of clothing can be worn by different depending on how you wear and style it.
Black Chalk : Do you consider yourself an artist?
Melissa Bui : In a way, I do think that I am an artist, as I tend to draw using mix media or simply just using pen and paper, my inspiration in preparation of developing each season’s store. It helps me visualize and translate my ideas into embroidery, something that I specialize in. As Karl Lagerfield famously said, fashion is the junction of art and commerce!
Black Chalk : What matters to you most as a fashion designer?
Melissa Bui : What matters to me as a fashion designer is being able to create beautifully handcrafted pieces that can last in one’s wardrobe. I love the idea of being able to pass down a treasured and loved piece of clothing or jewelry, and the only way it’s possible is to have quality designs that will last.
Black Chalk : What do you like best about designing clothes?
Melissa Bui : I love seeing women wearing my designs for the first time. The look they have when they’ve found something that they feel comfortable and confident makes me proud of what I create. It’s the best feeling in the world.
Black Chalk : What do you dislike about designing clothes?
Melissa Bui : The constant cycle of having to create one collection after the next. It’s rewarding, but definitely mentally draining!
Black Chalk : How would you define your personal style?
Melissa Bui : Contrary to the feminine pieces that I create at the atelier, I’m usually a very casual person just because functionality is important in my work and I am constantly moving around the atelier. I love wearing denim jeans with sneakers and a simple top for a day-to-day look. However, I do enjoy wearing bold colors and dressing up for special events and parties! One thing that never changes is that there will always be a ‘pop’ of color in my outfit, whether it be an entire outfit, accessory or lipstick!
Black Chalk : How would you define the style your line exemplifies?
Melissa Bui : I always say that I am designing for a modern-day Audrey Hepburn. Each piece begins by re-imagining elements of nature, and making those elements timeless and feminine for my customer’s everyday life.
Black Chalk : What are some of your favorite fashion websites, magazines, or books?
Melissa Bui : The Golden Age of Couture is by far my favorite book. I love the feminine “new look” from the 50s, the amount of detail the book captures is very inspiring. Whenever I have a creative block, I always find myself flicking through The Golden Age of Couture.
Black Chalk : What are your favorite colors to work with and why?
Melissa Bui : My favorite color to work with is blue, especially powdered blue. It’s the perfect color for all skin tones.
Black Chalk : What are your favorite fabrics to work with and why?
Melissa Bui : My favorite fabric to work with is Silk. I love the shine and how it feels against the skin. We even use silk to line all of our designs!
Black Chalk : Where do you get your inspiration?
Melissa Bui : Most of my inspiration comes during my travels; I love seeing new color combinations, patterns and textures when exploring. I believe there is elegance in nature and I’m particularly fond of flora & fauna, which you can find throughout my collections.
Black Chalk : What are some of your fashion goals?
Melissa Bui : To make people understand the real cost of luxury fashion and to appreciate the quality and craftsmanship of handmade designs.