A new Designer Dialogue has us checking in across the pond with Melissa Del Bono, the founder of beloved British accessories brand meli melo. From the brand’s inception in 2005, Del Bono has created distinctly structured and sleek handbags with a nostalgic nod to her past in the Aeolian Islands. With a broad color spectrum ranging from classic taupe to newfangled flamingo and the beloved staple silhouette of the Thela bag, meli melo’s growth has catapulted into international recognition and acclaim. meli melo’s chic yet practical bags have been spotted on the arms of starlets like Sienna Miller, Kate Moss, and Nicole Richie to everyday working women (like roztayger customers!). Read on to learn more about the equal parts smart and stylish woman behind the successful brand, along with the scoop on what to expect for spring and summer.
How did your life prepare you to create meli melo? How did you name the brand?
I come from a very entrepreneurial family so it has always been in my blood to want to create something special of my own. Growing up in the beautiful Aeolian Islands, I was inspired to create handbags after watching the women in the villages carry large wicker baskets. The trademark inverted handles on the Thela bag are influenced by these baskets and the way women carry their bags. There is definitely a strong heritage behind meli melo. The name comes from the nickname I was given by friends and family from a young age. I feel it adds a personal touch the brand as well as giving character to the bags.
How does the city of London influence your designs?
Living in London is so enriching and freeing in a design sense. There are no boundaries in London style, the more unique the better. London girls here have a really cool, effortless sense of dressing and I like to portray this in my designs. My home is just off the Portobello so you can imagine the array of old mixed with new, beautiful antiques alongside a mass of vintage fur coats and evening gowns. It’s totally inspiring. What I love most is that it’s real; the energy around the area is wonderful, there are so many likeminded creatives.
The Thela bag is your most beloved. Aside from fresh colors for spring/summer, are you able to share any new bags you’re currently designing?
The Thela was named after my husband’s grandmother, so the heritage is present every time I hear the name! It feels very special that our bestselling bag is named after her. I can’t give too much away, but of course there will be something extremely exciting happening with the Thela Bag! We have been experimenting with size. I think next season the Thela will be in demand even more than ever…we are welcoming The Thela Mini to the Thela family, which is even more fashion forward and utterly wearable. The meli melo Splatter print will be back. The colours are stunning and the print for next season is so strong, I can’t wait to uncover the new collection. This season saw the Thela become a Back Bag which has had amazing response from press and customer alike so we are focusing on this shape again for next season with the addition of some amazing print!
Who is the ideal meli melo woman? Who is your muse?
The meli melo girl is ever discerning, plugged in and on-the-go with an eye for style and unique pieces. I imagine a girl of discovery, scouting out new hot spots and visiting chic boutiques, often finding that star piece that everyone else lusts after. The meli melo girl is inspired by the world; she likes to visit new and exciting destinations whilst always looking effortlessly stylish. And she enjoys life!
If you weren’t an accessories designer, what career path would you pursue?
Having worked in PR, I am tempted to say that maybe I would have built my career in that area of the industry. Truly I can’t see myself doing anything other than this—I just had to wait until I felt I had enough courage to trust myself and gain enough belief in myself to succeed as a designer. I have always been creative but it’s such a personal thing sharing your creations with the world! Now I totally trust my designs and instinct. I make bags that I love. Having the support of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Olivia Palermo and knowing that they enjoy the bags themselves is so flattering.
What’s currently on your playlist?
I’m loving the new Arctic Monkeys album as well as Erykah Badu, Sam Smith and Laura Mvula for the ultimate chill-out music. It depends what mood I’m in and what I’m designing, but I also enjoy some old school David Bowie and 60′s classics.
Any exciting plans for 2014 in the works that you can share with us?
There’s always exciting stuff going on at meli melo! Of course, unveiling the new AW14 collection is utterly exciting. Lots of stunning new leathers that have not been seen before as well as some fabulous new styles that I cannot wait to get designing. We have just opened our first stand-alone store in London so hopefully more of them are to come!
Shop the meli melo collection at roztayger.
Founded by fashion industry veteran Elizabeth Jeffer-Anerousis, roztayger offers a timeless and versatile selection of men’s and women’s handbags, totes, wallets, briefcases, travel bags, electronic cases, and small goods made of quality materials.