Kelly Killoren Bensimon chats with Melissa Odabash about stylish swimsuits in time for resort season:
Even though it’s chilly in NYC, its almost resort and swim season.
American-born bikini designer Melissa Odabash is London-based but is taking New York by storm. Known for creating the “Ferraris of swimwear,” Odabash is loved by celebs and stars. A model herself, Odabash had her zebra-print bikini become the best-selling product in the Victoria’s Secret catalog in 1998. Odabash clues us in to what’s hot for resort season, and it’s sizzling.
How did you get your start?
I was living in Rome and modeling a lot of swimwear, which was all about bright prints and wild colors, so I thought I would do a line with solid colors and no prints, normal cuts and just the perfect-fit swimsuit that anyone could wear. After two years of making a few samples, a friend of mine ... asked if she could bring the sample line to [the] USA and from there she got me into Sports Illustrated. [It was] at the time when it was Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell. So, after a great spread in there, then it went into department stores and the whole thing kind of started.
What’s your go-to inspiration for bikinis?
I love vintage, so I go to markets and look through anything vintage to get ideas. I love the ’60s — also James Bond movies.
What celebrities have the best bikini bodies?
That’s tricky, as I work with so many of them. I would say Elle Macpherson, Cindy Crawford, Rihanna, Nicole Scherzinger, Kim Kardashian, Eva Longoria, Cameron Diaz. I love curvy women.
Can you tell me about your collaboration with the Elton John AIDS Foundation?
I’m an old friend of David [Furnish] and Elton’s and it’s their 20th anniversary, and I really wanted to get involved with the charity and give back. They do the most incredible job. ... I wanted to design something for men, women and kids, so I came up with my trademark Panama hat with a ribbon that has red in it, as the campaign is ‘Love Is in My Blood.’ I donate 20 pounds of every hat sold to helping women get medicine not to pass AIDS to their children.
What’s the hottest suit in your resort line for 2014?
I like skimpy, so I would wear the Portugal.
What’s sexier: a bikini or a one- piece?
I love both. It’s all about your body. For the first time, last year I put on one of my bandeau whole pieces to go paddleboarding in and I loved it.
What’s your favorite vacation destination?
Anywhere in Italy. I love food, so I always go to Italy every year. It helps that it’s great weather, the men are stunning and the friendliest people ever.
How does one become Melissa Odabash?
Work like a dog, don’t give up, welcome all the wrinkles that come with the stress, be nice to everyone, treat everyone as an equal and never think of yourself as a boss. It’s a whole team that makes a company work.