Let’s go back for a moment; maybe four or five years. A young girl named Melissa is in about third or fourth grade scribbling and sketching vigorously the faces of some of her heroes as she lays on the floor of her grandparents home. No, she’s not drawing the faces of Phineas & Ferb but more likely the faces of fashion gurus Karl Lagerfeld and Donatella Versace.
Lev Vygotsky, a psychologist on cultural history, once said that, “A child’s play is not simply a reproduction of what he has experienced, but a creative reworking of the impressions he has acquired.” If we’re taking this to heart, then Miss Melissa Jade Aiello has acquired the impressions of a creative prodigy. Under the artistic name Missy X, Aiello has discovered a way to profit monetarily through her love of designing t-shirts in the likeness of influential people in American culture that she simply finds interesting, such as Amy Winehouse and even President Obama. Missy was born in Nottingham, England in 2001. Yes; 2001, people. She always had a love for drawing, but began copying illustrations at nine years old on a weekend trip to her grandparents’ house, according to an interview with an online magazine properly named Virtuous Girl. That same year Missy and her family made a life-changing move to the states, specifically the fashion-forward city New York, that undoubtedly sparked the entrepreneurial ambition of the young lady. Naturally, you’re probably wondering what her initial connection to the fashion world was, right? Well, in New York her mother worked as a model booker, and also a freelance casting director according to the online fashion magazine thefashionfoot. From the time Missy’s teacher encouraged her to take drawing seriously, she seemed destined to be one of the bright new visionaries, and was astonishingly intentional in her growth as a fashion protege.
Missy drew pictures of some of her favorite designers such as Anna Wintour, John Galliano, and a picture of Karl Lagerfeld in 15 minutes. Her designs immediately received positive feedback and people claimed they wanted to wear her work. Missy’s mom saw a golden opportunity to hone in on her daughter’s talent and creativity, so Tees by Missy X was born. Missy was quoted as saying, “Fashion is really important to me because it defines who I am…” in an interview with Vogue. Not only does fashion define who Missy X is, but there is also an abundance of creativity and creative confidence. When I look at the designs on her T-shirts I cannot help but think of another legendary NYC artist, Basquiat. Missy is young, just as Basquiat was at the time of his passing, and drawing the things in her environment exactly as she sees it. Whereas Basquiat drew distorted figures and inanimate objects, Missy draws famous people in a way that does not focus so much on intricate details, but more on conveying the features of the individual that is most important to HER, the artist.
Missy’s website, teesbymissyx.com, is more of the same youthful creativity and fun; as soon as the website pops up you can see a backdrop of both of her homes, England and New York City. Paper clips, ice cream, and rain boots, along with one of her drawings is seen floating across the screen, and I get the feeling that I have entered the mind of Missy X and many other pre-teen and teen expressionist. Navigating through the website, you can quickly get the backstory of her rise to prominence and special request a t shirt. We also get a glimpse into Missy’s personality as she interviews models and designers at a fashion show, and even catch a glimpse of superstar rapper Wiz Khalifa’s pre-show ritual as he throws on one of Missy’s Tees as he prepares to rock a show. It appears that all the tools are put into place for Missy, and now it is just a matter of time when her reign as the queen of fashion begins.
In England, Missy X would be known as “Brill”-which is short for “Brilliant”, or cool amongst the kids. Since her burst onto the scene she has done collaborative designs with rap superstar Wiz Khalifa. And this young lady does not compromise; Missy draws who she finds “interesting”, no exceptions. “I said no to Justin Bieber because they’re cheesy,” she said in an excerpt taken from multifaceted online magazine 5election, “There are too many boys like Bieber- there’s also The Wanted and One Direction.” You’ve got to respect the honesty coming from a true artist! Especially at a time when it’s customary to be politically correct, and candid opinions are locked and put away in the closet right next to Tall Tees and K-Swiss sneakers. Not only is Missy honest, but she is also meticulous and calculating with her brand; the Tees by Missy X are only available to buy upon special request according to thefashionfoot. She is in negotiations to expand the availability of the tees to a wider audience, but for the time being, the exclusiveness of her unique t shirts only makes the demand go up as the supply stays low, for you economic novices tuned in. Will she be able to retain the attention she has garnered in the fashion world thus far with her crazy cool tees? Only time will tell, but what we do know for sure is that she is not indecisive like so many of us were at her age. She wants to become a full-time designer when she leaves school, and wants to expand her line beyond t-shirts: “I think maybe notebooks, key chains, necklaces, and mugs would be good – we’ll see.”, she proclaims on her website teesbymissyx.com. I need to borrow some of that ambition and confidence; I know I just read your mind.
-Terrence D. Burruss