So & So

From Rhode Island to Marrakech With Gypset Girl

So Rhode Island Magazine ·

What it means to truly embody the “Gypset” lifestyle is to exude an air of the past, to channel the beatniks and the hippies, all while embracing modern day wanderlust. Clothing designer Melissa Hillas is a 14-year South County transplant by way of New Jersey, who has spent summers at the beach since birth. Inspired by her father, one of the first long boarders of the 1960s, Melissa naturally turned her free spirited memories into the booming boho-luxe brand, Gypset Girl. We talked with her about living the Gypset life and the inspiration for her newest fashion line.

How did you come to embrace the Gypset lifestyle and spin it into a brand?
I’ve always embraced a freethinking mindset and felt as though I was born into the wrong generation, that I should have been living in the ‘60s. I love to read and devoured books by Emerson, Kerouac and Burroughs. I got lost in thoughts of hitting the road on experimental adventures.

As far as spinning it into a brand, it grew organically through my world travels and writing my blog, Gypset Girl, which explores travel, fashion and the nomadic bohemian lifestyle I live.  

What came first, your passion for adventure or your passion for fashion? 
As soon as I had the ability to understand travel, I wanted to move around. There was no changing me once I had a small taste of it. I have to say though, at the same time I adored fashion equally. I learned about the glossy beautiful pages of Vogue at my mother’s knee.

How does your passion for travel inform your passion for fashion?
Seeing all of the different colors and textures from different cultures has a big influence on how I see fashion. Fashion informs my travel through wanting to understand why people wear the clothes they do in different corners of the world.

What was the biggest inspiration behind your newest collection?
I suppose my muses for this collection are my great grandparents. They lived as expats in Marrakech after WWII. I grew up looking at their photos and hearing stories of their time spent in Marrakech. When I finally visited for the first time, I felt like I was home. I’ve been there four times in the last year and a half. I have a great group of friends there now and feel very immersed in the culture when I visit.

What can we expect from the next Gypset Girl line?
The inspiration for this collection was an elegant rock and roll nomad. There’s lots of leather and supple textures in the pieces ensuring that while you look fabulous you will feel very comfortable. That alone makes them great for day to day. The pieces can also be mixed and matched with each other to create multiple outfits within the collection. 

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