After graduating from the new Jimmy Choo Academy in London and launching her own label at London Fashion Week, fashion designer Melissa-Kate Newitt seems to have done everything she set out to achieve.
But there’s one goal the 24-year-old from Birkenhead has still got in her sights: seeing the world-famous burlesque dancer and model, Dita Von Teese, in her designs.
“If I could dress anyone for the red carpet, it would be her,” says Melissa-Kate. “She is one of the main inspirations for my fashions.
“She captures the energy of what I want to get across, that divine feminine energy that she carries so well, it’s dark and romantic. She just captures everything about my brand.”
And Melissa-Kate adds: “Luckily Jimmy Choo knows her so who knows? Fingers crossed – anything is possible!”
She says: “I have always had what I call my delusional optimism. When I was younger and said ‘I’m going to be a fashion designer’ people would look at me and think how can you think that like and be so positive? But I could never understand how they didn’t think like that.
“It’s never failed me. Anything I’ve put my mind to I’ve ended up achieving. So having that optimistic mindset and trying, keeps me going.
“And, to be honest, I’m very proud of myself.”
As well she might be. With the world at her feet, Melissa-Kate is already taking the fashion world by storm.
After graduating from Northumbria University, she secured the opportunity to do a Master’s degree in Fashion Entrepreneurship in Design and Brand Innovation at Jimmy Choo’s London Fashion Academy, one of the first to study at the icon’s newly-launched establishment.
She got to meet and spend time with the celebrated 74-year-old, as well as gaining hands-on help and advice from the renowned designer who’s known and respected across the globe.
And in December she won the British Designer Award from The Northern Fashion Week – after presenting part three of her three-part Love of Venus Collection at JCA’s London Fashion Week which served as an official launch for her brand.
“I feel like I’ve skipped so many levels to get to where I am and where I wanted to be,” she smiles. “It was my life goal to show at London Fashion Week and I have achieved that at the beginning of my career.
“At first you do wonder: so where do I go from here?
“But I can just keep doing this and making my goals and my dreams higher, and bigger. It’s my passion and what I love doing.”
With her fashion ideas and brand, Melissa-Kate infuses her personal interests into her design concepts, channelling her paganism and spirituality, her belief in fate, into beautiful creations.
In her own words, her label is ‘a world where patriarchy doesn’t exist, influenced by the power of a divine feminine energy through witchcraft and pin-up style, handcrafted by a female for the feminine’.
Each garment is bespoke, as Melissa-Kate creates one-off demi-couture pieces to her brand’s values of giving self-love and confidence. She specialises in corsetry and draping, emphasizing the female figure through silhouettes, and works with leather and satins to exude a luxurious feel and add a touch of seduction.
“I’m not sure where it came from, but I started designing dresses at primary school (St Joseph’s RC in Upton) in year two or three,” says Melissa-Kate.
“I’d draw them in the back of my notebooks for maths and English. Fortunately, my mum was very supportive of it from the start and bought me fashion books to help, and just let me run away with it.
“It’s part of my personality, it’s who I am. And having a passion for designing dresses, I learned about how other designers like Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen would do these amazing things, and that inspired me.
“I see fashion as art and creativity, and how I express myself. It’s taken me years to fully understand what I like to do, and why I do it. It’s not to impress people, or to try to be the next thing, it’s about getting my vision, and everything about me, across.
“That’s what I love about it, and seeing one of my garments on someone, and thinking, I actually made that, is the best feeling in the world.”
Melissa-Kate is focused on doing more of what she loves, with the hope of one day having her own studio and showroom, and being recognised by Couture Fashion Week in Paris.
She’ll continue to work hard to achieve it, and she reckons that she has one key asset which others don’t that might help her achieve it: being from Merseyside.
Melissa-Kate, who also studied at Rare School of Fashion in Liverpool, says: “Being from Birkenhead, from Merseyside, is one of the biggest parts of my identity, where my personality comes from.
“People can tell you’re from Merseyside, obviously because of the accent, but also because of the friendliness, the humour; everything about it.
“You’re so warmly welcomed by so many people. Anyone can get along with you – and I’m so grateful for that, and for these characteristics.
“I’m proud Merseyside brought me up like that.”