Exclusive Interview With Melody Ehsani, Accessories Designer For Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, And More!

Melody EhsaniPhoto: Mike Quain

On my recent trip to L.A. I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with the “First Lady of Fresh,” designer Melody Ehsani. If the name doesn’t yet ring a bell, her work definitely will. You’ve seen her pieces on artists like Alicia Keys, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Rihanna, Keri Hilson, Cassie, LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, Diggy Simmons, Amber Rose, Ciara, Beyoncé, Estelle, and… Mariah Carey *faints* (just to name a few). See the looks here—everything from photo shoots, to music videos, to red carpets and live performances. She’s everywhere!

Born and raised in Los Angeles in a traditional Persian family, Melody, like many of her cousins and friends, applied to go off to law school after college, but soon realized she couldn’t stay. She decided to break with her culture and follow her heart into a field she felt internally drawn to: design. The more she designed shoes and products, the more Melody felt like it was the right thing to do.

“Design is part of my blueprint. My style is inspired by paradox, controversy, justice, and pushing the envelope in showing that you truly can’t judge a book by its cover. I design to upset the equilibrium. I design to inspire. I design to serve.”

I was nervous because I’ve been an M.E. fan for some time, but Mel was sweet, welcoming, and the studio just reeked of cool. The first thing I learned about her was that she doesn’t drink—which I learned as I was pulling out the champagne I’d brought for us to sip on during the interview…whoops!

Photo: Rory Rockmore


Nickname: Melly, Mel, Melo
Hometown: L.A.
Sign: Aries
Turnoffs: Girl: cliff hanger toes; Guy: bad tattoos and bad texting grammar/etiquette
Hobbies: Photography
Dream Date: Andre 3000
Make-out Song: Anything by Jodeci
Favorite Ice Cream: Gold Medal Ribbon from Baskin-Robbins
Pet Peeve: S*** talking…it’s unnecessary
Guilty Pleasure: Twinkies
Favorite City: Paris
Favorite Music Video: Michael Jackson: “Remember the Time”


Photo: Rory Rockmore

Yes, that’s Keri Hilson’s “No Boys Allowed” chain, and yes, that’s Erykah Badu’s “I’m Fly” swag.

Photo: Rory Rockmore

Custom Varsity Letter Pin. One of my personal favs.

Photo: Rory Rockmore

The Original Armor-Dillo Rings.

Photo: Rory Rockmore

Stackable, YES STACKABLE, 2- and 3-Finger Rings.

Photo: Rory Rockmore

Lifesavers Swarovski Doorknockers, worn by songstress Kandi Burruss, and the Swarovski Bamboo Earrings can be seen on the one and only Cassie and Mrs. Swizz Beats herself, Alicia Keys.

Photo: Rory Rockmore

POW Bamboo Hoops available in a variety of colors

Photo: Rory Rockmore

Official Love/Hate Rings, made famous by Alicia Keys.

Photo: Rory Rockmore

The Maasai Inspired Necklace seen on Beyoncé on the cover of TIME Magazine. Beyoncé. TIME Magazine. No big deal.


What fashion trend would you like to see die a slow and painful death?
Ed Hardy and Kitten heels—I had no idea what kitten heels were (Ed. Note: We do! And we TOTES agree with her!), mainly because I’m a dude, but for those of you who ALSO don’t know…it’s between a flat and a heel/wedge. (I drew y’all a diagram.)

What is your favorite fashion trend right now?
Lucite heels and latex BUT…Mel corrected herself a millisecond after “latex” left her lips with… “CLASSY lucite heels and latex.” OF COURSE! What other kind of lucite heels and latex are there?!

Who is your favorite artist you’ve worked with so far?
Lauryn Hill. She’s a true artist and really involved in every aspect. Mel also said it was easy for her to connect with Lauryn Hill because she sees a lot of herself in her.

She also mentioned Erykah Badu, which is the way I’d first heard of M.E. The rings Badu dons on the cover of her album New Amerykah are custom and YOU YOURSELF can own them too! (I already have a few, I highly recommend custom.) She said Badu was just on a different planet and ahead of her time. She has a way of making couture pieces look wearable and relatable.

Who would you like to work with next?
Phillipe Stark. Lawd help my credit card balance if there’s some Stark x Ehsani collabo in the near future…furniture stores will BOW…DOWN.

What two designers would you like to see collaborate?
Chanel x Nike. CAN YOU IMAGINE?!

What are your greatest achievements (so far)?
Being able to show up to work as M.E. and never having to do anything other than what’s representative of who I am.

What motivates you?
My motivation is my service. Seeing a design go from my mind into the world and seeing what purpose it serves. Seeing how it makes people feel gives a real sense of accomplishment. If you follow Melody on Twitter, almost every day you’re treated to a few pics of real people stuntin’ in the latest. I also look for service in other people. I see Each One, Teach One as my own inspiration. Beyoncé also. She presents concepts in her own way and inspires me to do me better. She’s authentic and everyone should go that hard if you really feel something.

Who did you look up to when you were younger?
*Laughs* I looked up to…Magic Johnson. He was my role model because it was the first time basketball had seen natural talent, even more of a role model after he got sick. Mel went on to say she played high-school basketball because of that.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A pediatrician.

What is your most embarrassing moment?
I was out one night and this guy kept making eyes at me. He came over a little later and said hi. I thought he looked SO familiar, so I asked him if I knew him and where I knew him from. After asking about where he grew up and what high school he went to and getting nowhere, he said he was in a band. I asked what one? He said, NKOTB…I didn’t know what that was. Then he said “New Kids”…it was Jordan Knight. Let’s just discuss this for a minute here…JORDAN KNIGHT OF NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK approaches you in a bar…end scene. We can just let this one slide, and think about what it COULD have been.

What is one of your proudest moments?
Coming back from living in China for 6 months with my first collection. Homegirl lived in Factory City for 6 months and didn’t speak Chinese. She SHOULD be proud. (PS: Mel’s first collection was ALL shoes.)

What are you listening to right now?
Frank Ocean…and…Adele. I love Adele.

Who are your fashion icons?
Icons? Hmm…I don’t think I have a fashion icon but I’m in love with the Givenchy Resort Collection.

What perfume did you wear in high school?
Oh gosh, I have to think…it was Issey Miyake.

Where do you go/look for inspiration?
I have an inspiration folder on my desktop and I just save pictures of anything I find in it. When I need inspiration I just look through that…or Tumblr. I’m a huge believer in doing what you love. I find inspiration everywhere I go. Half of my last collection came from Home Depot. You can follow Melody’s Blog on Tumblr here.

Tell me about your creative process?
My process is a loose one. I’ll look at something and think about how I can make it better or I’ll see something and think it’s one thing but then when I get closer I see that it’s actually something completely different. Then I’ll make it what I thought it was originally.

Describe your perfect day off.
[Laughs] My perfect day off would be sleeping in and spending the day in bed. Just a lazy day with no plan, doing whatever.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
“Weigh everything against reality”…know where you’re at. It’s especially important with designers to know the process of getting there.

What’s your favorite old, can-never-throw-away piece of clothing?
I’m a pack rat. My closet is so full. But my one piece would be…(pause)…a vintage pair of Levi’s jeans. I could never throw them away. They are THE jeans.

What’s next for Melody Ehsani? Watch for a charity collaboration with Reebok, sold in high-end stores, a legging collaboration with See You Monday and her new collection, which she describes as “Native American meets ’90s prostitute.”


These Native Feather and Neo Earrings…may-jor:

Photo: Courtesy of Melody Ehsani

And for rings, we’re really into the Chief and the Tri-Harder

Photo: Courtesy of Melody Ehsani


Photo: Rory Rockmore

Photo: Rory Rockmore

Photo: Rory Rockmore

Photo: Rory Rockmore

Photo: Rory Rockmore

Photo: Rory Rockmore