MELISSA JADE AIELLO was only nine years old when she set up her T-shirt label Missy X, her nickname. Three years later, she has made a solid business out of drawing portraits of famous personalities – from Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour to John Galliano and Donatella Versace.
Missy X was born in Nottingham, but moved to New York in 2010. When she was just seven, she started to copy illustrations from her colouring books. Before long, her family became her subjects and her mother, a freelance casting director, developed the idea of printing the drawings onto T-shirts. She created an illustration of Karl Lagerfeld in 15 minutes, although most of her work takes an hour to produce. The 12-year-old works on a commission-only basis, but she’s quite discerning when it comes to choosing what she will and won’t draw.
Melissa makes t-shirts that are loved by the editors of Vogue, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj. Names you would like to work for, you might think. Yet the young designer is very selective. “I said no to Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj because they are a little cheesy. There are too many guys like Bieber, see for instance The Wanted and One Direction. I only sign people I like and find interesting, “, said the New Yorker.
Currently, the T-shirts are only available to buy on special request, but there are talks with a major supplier to bring the label to a bigger audience. Missy is keen to become a full-time designer when she leaves school, but for now, she has plenty to keep her occupied.
“Fashion is really important to me because it defines who I am,” Missy told us. “If I go to school in sweatpants, people would be surprised. I did actually do that once, and everyone said, ‘Why are you so regular today?’ Fashion is interesting to me and drawing fashion people is even more interesting.”
Missy would like to be full time Designer as she has finished school, but so far she has enough to keep doing. “I have already started with designing bags, but I still have more ideas in the field of fashion. So in the future I would like to do things like notebooks, key rings, chains and mugs. We’ll see. “