Before entering the grand hair and fashion show that was the capper of Denver Fashion Week, we spotted local fashion designer Mellissa Wiley, off the runway and looking amazing. So we stopped to ask her about her clothing line, the Metal Monkey, and found out what inspires her punk-rock Cruella de Vil style.
Wiley followed in her mother's well-shod footsteps as self-taught fashion designer, and describes her own style as "crazy, sexy, cool."
"I started editing my clothes about ten years ago, when I couldn’t find anything that remotely resembled my style — and forget about finding a good pair of fitted pants," she says. "No one was putting it out there. I want the adult version of my rock-and-roll youth, to be wearing polished and classy clothes influenced by heavy metal, not a teenager. That ah-ha moment established Metal Monkey, which led me to create handcrafted, one-of-a-kind, original clothing. The Metal Monkey is what rock and roll looks like."
Style inspirations and icons: "The decade of decadence, 1980 to 1990. Provocative American rock-and-roll fashion that is raw, rebellious, unapologetic and sexy. Capturing the push of vulgar and vanity in my look inspires me most. Forty-nine percent vulgarity and 51 percent vanity is my formula to offend and complement at the same time. Clean-cut, mannered fashion is bland and not interesting. I watch what the Fashion Hauses of the world are up to, and they have nothing for me or my style. That, in part, inspires me to create what I want to wear and look at."
Style mantra: “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap! My dressing routine is tedious and would be considered ridiculous by most; I literally try on all of my options. Fortunately, the result is a polished and cohesive creation that speaks my style. I think I have somewhat of an obligation to people who are, for whatever reason, not able to wear the clothing that they really love. "
Favorite color: "Monochromatic. Black and white."
Shops at: "Perfectly random things find me, without fail, every time at thrift stores, which is my go-to when I’m shopping for mostly anything. You won’t find something from 1995 in any other place than a thrift store. Committed to helping humankind, thrift stores do so much in and for our communities. People helping people is always in fashion."
Favorite accessory: "My signature knee-high Chuck Taylors. The best place to wear my favorite accessory? The airport. Other passengers going through security get bummed-out thinking I’m going to hold them up while I untie my ridiculously laced shoes. We all get a good laugh when I reveal the hidden zipper. Shoes aren’t judged by their laces, but by their soles."
Favorite song right now: "My current current favorite song is 'Slave to the Grind,' by Skid Row. Motivational advice from a rock song: 'You can’t be king of the world if you’re slave to the grind.'”
Like Wiley and the hairstyles shown on the runway at Denver Fashion Week, you should always be ready to challenge the status quo with your fashion and personal aesthetic, Denver.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.