To Mars and to Never Return: Intimates with Melissa Ann Taylor

Hi, I'm Melissa Taylor, I'm a Model and clothing and lingerie Designer. My inspiration comes from people I have loved, the things I find most beautiful and troubling, and whatever currently gets me out of bed in the morning and keeps me up at night. I'm excited to shine a light on Armoire Magazine's "Intimates" theme by giving you a look into the creation of my newest collection, To Mars And Never Return.

My newest collection To Mars and Never Return, is at first glance a streamline, down to earth underwear line. I set out to make a simple, Utilitarian collection with exquisite, minimalist cuts. I design clothing not mainly for special occasions but more so to live in every day. My goal is to somehow pull both the depth of our dreams and the ghastly, beautiful, restless reality of the human experience into the second skin that we choose for ourselves.

The color palette for this collection is inspired by the sky's transition from sunset to dusk to starry night, with layers of clouds, shadowed silhouettes against the darkening sky, and the night's opening into the vastness of outer space. As I developed the colors (which I hand mix and dye) I wanted to pull out this feeling of reaching for something beyond yourself, throwing yourself all in with potential for disaster, knowing you can never really return the same way to anything you leave behind- relationships, old versions of yourself, places that used to be home - because reaching is worth it even if you never make it. 

I styled this collection with a couple repurposed pieces that I embroidered with Morse code and a coat of arms that took me three days to complete! After researching the basic components of a coat of arms, I drew my design, created pattern pieces for every shape, and hand cut and sewed each piece together using vinyl, wool felt, glass beads, vintage satin, neon and metallic embroidery thread and fabric paint.The fabric for this collection is Texas grown organic cotton. I hand dye the fabric myself, which is a tedious process that drives me a little nuts, but the unreplicable personal touch is worth it. I use fiber reactive dyes. They have the best spectrum of colors and bind permanently to the fibers.

The fabric for this collection is Texas grown organic cotton. I hand dye the fabric myself, which is a tedious process that drives me a little nuts, but the unreplicable personal touch is worth it. I use fiber reactive dyes because they have the best spectrum of colors and bind permanently to the fibers.

My production happens here in Austin as well. I have a sewer who helps me produce each style in small runs and I cut everything myself right in my studio. I think it's rare to know how your clothes are made and who makes them, and I know many of my customers love that their undergarments are made specially by hand right in Austin.

The look book is the capstone to each collection. It's nerve racking to pull everything together, and each collection feels much like having a baby - it's agonizing, feels impossible, but you've dedicated months and months to growing this thing you created and this is the final step to bring it into the world. Having a team of people I love working with is crucial. This look book was shot by Helen Jade Photography with hair and makeup by my friend @cindi.love of@vinyl.studio. Models: Jessica Marie Frye and myself. 

It's very scary sometimes to put your work on display, as any Artist can probably relate to. I've modeled for most of my own look books as well, and it feels a little surreal to be literally standing in my own underwear pretty much publicly, not always sure if I've been totally successful in what I've set out to do.

Being both an underwear designer and a model, I've certainly thought a lot about what it means to publicly present something that is personal and intimate, and whether that can destroy the intimacy by "sharing" it with so many people. Everyone has their own line to draw, I suppose, but I think what we reserve as the terrain of intimacy - bodies and lingerie, for instance - is actually pretty surface level, and it's still a rare and intentional thing to truly share yourself deeply with another person, not just visually or even physically, but also mentally and emotionally. That is something you can't fake or force, or even help sometimes, and it's one of the few things that makes life truly worthwhile to me. 

 

© Melissa Ann Taylor 2017