CONCEPT: Graceland Day Book is where we revel in the intelligent, inimitable and totally mesmerising women we come into contact with during our travels; both across the globe on buying trips and en-route to the local dance floor. A series intended to engage and inspire, this précis collection of interviews represents the backbone of Graceland’s ethos: feel stirred, be superb.
As the singer in the band Tall Shores, the creative force behind the label Sunshine Symbol and part-owner of Before March Store in Melbourne, it's unarguable that Melissa Mikletic is mesmerisingly multitalented. We chat to Mel below about opening a shop space with her two best friends, how music has influenced her art, her sense of style, and the impressive yet somewhat-unpredictable projects she's set on tackling next...
Firstly, tell us about your exciting new shop space, Before March, and the inspiration behind it.
Before March is the baby of myself and two of my best friends Dom and Sarah. We met through working in a fabric store and we would continuously daydream about starting our own business. We talked about it for so long we decided we needed to give ourselves a deadline to organise our first pop up, our deadline was vaguely ‘before march’ but we had it all ready by September so we were late! The name is just a simple nod to the first marking of us taking our idea seriously and trying to kick it into gear.
Before March Store, Northcote. Photo: Before March Instagram
I love Sunshine Symbol’s dreamlike, feminine, and somewhat-delicate aesthetic. What themes are currently influencing your work?
Thank you. I have this whole fantasy of dressing like a ‘beached mermaid’ for the summer, so that kind of inspired my pearly, shimmery fabric choices. I have always been inspired by renaissance style painting, the interaction of light and objects and fabric and light- the way it comes to life in the sunshine or an ambiently lit bar (which is where I’d be more likely to be found).
How did you get your start in the fashion industry?
I fought the idea of getting into fashion for a while with thought that I’d get into law or do a music degree. My mother and grandmother have always created such beautiful ceremony around clothing and dressing themselves so that ultimately inspired me to explore fashion more so. I studied a bachelor degree and then wasn’t sure again whether to pursue it, but meeting the right people made me realise the passion and drive I had for it, those people are Dom and Sarah.
What matters most to you when you’re choosing what to wear?
Having a bit of fun with it while feeling sophisticated. A lot of pieces I own would be considered more formal so I feel like I’m usually overdressed but I work in industries that allow me to be quite free with what I wear so I like to take advantage of that while being comfortable but not overly practical.
What is that one vintage piece that has traveled with you over time, or, your all-time favourite vintage find?
I’m a sucker for coats and jackets. I found a wool coat from the 60’s with embroidered stars on it that has been through the wars, but I just continue to mend it and adjust it so it keeps on keepin' on. You know something is dear to you when you just keep trying to make it last longer.
Your singing voice is often compared to Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star, yet we also hear hints of Neko Case and early Stevie Nicks. Tell us which female vocalists inspire you, and why?
Billie Holiday, she has a lot pain in her voice which I find very beautiful, it’s evident she’s telling stories that come from somewhere really true. Angel Olsen for that heavenly, breathy quality and Cat Power because she has the huskiest, sexiest tones that make me melt.
Melissa performing in her Band 'Tall Shores'. Photo by: Lucas Brown.
I recently came across the following quote: ‘Everything I learned about getting dressed, I learned from pop music.’ (source unknown) Do you think music has a heavy influence your designs and sense of style?
Definitely. I was always mesmerised by videos of Stevie Nicks twirling around the stage in her velvet and fringing. I’d say I design with a theatrical twist, I always like to imagine the pieces on stage and under lights.
Name the top five albums that inspire you:
Cigarettes After Sex by Cigarettes after sex
Lady In Satin by Billie Holiday
In Rainbows by Radiohead
My Woman by Angel Olsen
Colour Green by Sibylle Baier
Between quitting your day-job, opening a store, running Sunshine Symbol, playing shows, writing and recording an album, you’ve achieved so many tremendous things this year. What’s something you have your sights set on achieving in 2018?
So many things! I feel like there’s so much more I need to do. I’m going to attempt to learn guitar and drums, start karate or boxing and look into courses to become a private investigator.
Words: Lucy Giblin
Click on the following links to check out Mel's creative pursuits:
Tall Shores Bandcamp
Sunshine Symbol Instagram
Before March Store Instagram
You can visit Before March Store IRL at 277 High Street, Northcote, Melbourne.