This New York City transplant worked her way to become the top authority of LA fashion and style. Former LA Times and Women’s Wear Daily (WWD fashion editor, Melissa Magsaysay has written for publications internationally, authored her own book titled City of Style, and co-founded online magazine, The Hive. We caught up with her to chat about her stylish career, life as a mom, and if we can expect another book.
Melissa A: You are the Californian authority on fashion and style. What steps did you take to break into the industry?
Melissa M: In 2004, Women’s Wear Daily didn’t have a huge presence out here in LA. There was a huge rise in premium denim and action sports industries and the LA correspondent didn’t want to cover it. So, they created this position for me and I moved out from New York.
I was down in Orange County all the time with all the action sports companies, like Hurley and Quiksilver, or focusing on denim and at the wash houses a lot. I guess I developed meaningful relationships with these companies because I was there to see them start and grow.
Melissa A: You style, write, and appear on television. Which role is your favorite?
Melissa M: I like writing stories for the newspaper or magazines. I think that it allows me to be an observer and tell people stories that I find interesting. In LA there’s so much going on with female entrepreneurs and people building really great lines. There’s also a sort of balance of women creating businesses for themselves and proving that you can really have it all. Those are stories I really like to tell.
Melissa A: Is there anything you’ve written lately that you’re really proud of?
Melissa M: There is a five-part series I wrote for the LA Times that was about women designers in LA and how a few of them came out of very male-dominated companies, in particular, the denim world. They never really had a stake in the company although they were the creative director of it. When they got to a certain point in their career, they branched out and created companies that really showed female empowerment. These women also showed more of a thoughtful and mindful work environment and how this is the way people want to live now.
Melissa A: Your book City of Style delves into the different subcultures and styles that can be found all over LA. When researching and writing the book, what did you discover that was most interesting to you? Perhaps your favorite part of the book?
Melissa M: I did a chapter called Chola Style. At the time, I didn’t know this style had such deep roots of Mexican American assimilation within LA. I thought it was a sartorial expression of feeling like they didn’t belong. This I find happens essentially within every culture, but this sort of had the most impact on the makeup and clothes which is now ingrained in the LA look. So that was interesting because it had deeper cultural ties.
Melissa A: Would you say your personal style falls into a particular subculture or ‘style’? Describe it for us.
Melissa M: My own personal style is very classic. I don’t get too trendy or polished. I always feel like my style is structured, sensible, and a bit tomboyish.
Melissa A: Will you be writing any more books in the future?
Melissa M: I want to. I want to write a book about LA being the denim capital. I feel like denim is changing in a lot of ways and people are realizing it’s not that sustainable. So, I’d want to capture “LA as the Denim Capital” and include great photography.
I like writing stories for the newspaper or magazines. I think that it allows me to be an observer and tell people stories that I find interesting.
Melissa A: How would you describe a day in the life of Melissa Magsaysay?
Melissa M: In the morning, my five-year-old Miles and I sleep way in. My husband makes my hot lemon water and I drink it in bed. Then I get up, have coffee and my Elle McPherson Super Elixir green powder or maybe some Goop Glow. Then, I’ll either go to Body by Simone in West Hollywood for a workout or do a hike through the canyon.
By 10 am, I start writing and answering emails. I write two days of the week and have meetings on another two. Some evenings I have work events (dinner or a store opening). If there are no events, I make sure to do the school pick up at 4 pm.
Melissa A: If we were to raid your closet, what accessory would we find the most of?
Melissa M: Shoes, I have a lot of flats. I’m either in loafers or sneaks. I love a Birkenstock.