Sitting in the Holt Renfrew suites in Toronto, designer Tamara Mellon, who is clad in a shoulder-baring top, skirt with thigh-high slits and tall gladiator sandals, exudes cheeky glamour. It's this irreverent approach to style that inspired her to launch her namesake label late last year. "I wanted to disrupt the fashion system," she says. "I wanted to create clothes and a system that worked for modern women. I wanted to break the rules!"
Stylish anarchy and business acumen seem to run in her family; Mellon's father, Tom Yeardye, was the co-founder of cutting-edge hair brand Vidal Sassoon. After co-founding the colossally successful accessory brand Jimmy Choo in 1996, Mellon has now launched a line that connects consumers with a constant stream of new pieces they can work into their wardrobe instantly.
"Fashion shows went online and suddenly customers could see a dress or coat that they loved but they would have to wait six months to buy it in stores," she explains. "I would see a piece, get really excited and think 'My God, I have to have it!' But by the time is actually was in a store I was so over it – it had been seen everywhere, and it didn't feel fresh any more. That was really what I wanted to avoid with my collection."
Mellon's au courant offerings include a range of separates, dresses, shoes and handbags synonymous with the kind of feminine luxury that Mellon herself has come to personify. "I design for an attitude, not a demographic or location. My customer is elegant; she is grown up but has an edge and sophistication."
To suit the lifestyle of her clientele, Mellon focused on simplicity and pieces that could transition from day to night. Her seasonless approach to design turned attention to fabrications and cuts that could be styled for fall in New York and in Los Angeles (cities Mellon is familiar with as she frequently travels coast-tocoast to visit her boyfriend, media mogul Mike Ovitz). The jet set aren't the only fans of Mellon's approach; there are also those who are simply tired of retiring favourite pieces at the end of the season. Mellon stresses that timeless accessories are the key to building a transitional wardrobe. "This is a summer clutch, but you can wear it year-round," she says, holding up the Attraction Nappa tote from her last collection. "I want all my accessories to be able to take you anywhere."
Among the most flexible of Mellon's offerings are her "legging boots." The uber-sleek boot that pulls right up into a pair of leggings was inspired by a photo she saw of a friend's mother in the 1960s. "If there is one thing all women need it's this boot. You can wear it casually under a cozy sweater, dressed up with some kind of sequined piece or under a mini skirt for that sixties vibe. It is the ultimate all-rounder!" As a testament to its must-have status, the boot sold out in a matter of minutes when it first debuted on Net-a-porter.
This covet factor has served Mellon's line well considering that creating wearable, luxurious pieces was her ultimate goal. "Luxury has been so bastardized it doesn't mean what it used to," she says. "My collection is really about quality and ease – to me, that's what luxury is really about."