Finding space within RuMel’s diary is no easy task. Focused, hard working, innovative and energetic are just a few adjectives in a long list that can be used to describe the multi-talented designer from West London.
As a true creative she is always on the move gathering inspiration and working on different projects rather than just sitting back and resting on her laurels. I managed to grab some time with her between two engagements on a cold December evening.
Before our talk began I was given one instruction “Don’t make me laugh too much!”. Knowing RuMel’s cheerful, animated nature, I knew this would be a challenge.
ModeHunter: First of all not everyone reading this would know who you are, actually I don’t even know who you are, so please introduce yourself.
RuMel: My name is Ruth Melbourne and I go by the name of RuMel, which is an abbreviation of my first and last name.
MH: Is that your brand name, nickname or just what you liked to be called?
RM: Well I am called many things.
MH: Hopefully all nice.
RM: (laughs) Yes. Ruthie, Ruthio, so RuMel was something I adapted and started calling myself while at University studying fashion design. I decided then that this would be my tag/brand name.
MH: My first acquaintance with you was as a make-up artist but you just mentioned you started out studying fashion design. How did this transition take place?
RM: Fashion design has always been a passion of mine from a very early age. I used to draw and was really good at illustrating and that is how it all started. Even from an early age in primary school I decided I wanted to be a designer. During high school the desire to be a designer was cemented in my mind. I hope I am not going too far back?
MH: No no, I want to know all the details, you can start from kindergarten if you desire.
RM: Ok, well after high school I then did a BTEC in fashion design at Uxbridge College. I was fortunate to have an amazing lecturer who was the head of the course at the time, Ian Hebditch. He really taught me a lot and really made me confident in my designing.
MH: So you dabbled a bit in Fashion Illustration as well?
RM: Yes, I really enjoyed drawing the female form; it came very easy to me. My GCSE art and design final piece was entitled “The Embellishment of Women’ which explored make-up and accessories used to create a look or the vision of how we want to be perceived. I was interested in the whole thought process of why a woman dresses a certain way or uses make-up to create a vision of how they want to be identified.
MH: Ok, so after college?
RM: After college I went on to Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication and graduated from there with a degree in womenswear fashion design. I was very happy with what I learnt.
MH: What did you choose for your final project?
RM: My final project was based on childhood memories specifically the bib. I was known for my designs being quite conceptual so it was very abstract and avant-garde. I don’t have any illustrations with me unfortunately.
MH: Well you can send me some, it would be good to see your development from your early stages.
RM: Definitely, I can do that.
MH: So the next step in your journey?
RM: Well even though I was a student I had to work part-time to make money and that is how the make-up side made an appearance. Initially I worked for Marks & Spencers then Oasis to understand the retail side of designing then I signed up with a beauty agency. I began working at prestigious stores such as Selfridges and Liberty. One of my first make-up assignments was working at the Clarins counter, which offered five-minute makeovers. I protested saying I don’t do make up but then was given the ultimatum of “you either do it or go home” so of course I just took the plunge and did the make over.
I remember many years ago when Selfridges used to do their themes throughout the store, they had one that featured naked people so they had hundreds of naked people up and down the escalators. They also had a Brazilian theme at another time so the whole store felt as if you were in Brazil. A Brazilian lady approached me and hugged me, explaining that she had a date and wanted me to do her make-up which I did with great success. I even had Clarins staff approach me on different occasions asking how I was able to do eyes so well as they found it quite difficult. I think for me I just found it quite easy because I was accustomed to dealing with colours and shapes and was able to transfer that into doing make-up.
MH: Ok, so now you have left University and are working in a beauty environment, what was up next?
RM: Well Clarins offered me a job via the agency and this made me realise that I actually did want to go into make-up. Meanwhile I also did a song-writing course at Goldsmiths. I used to sing in a choir and have always love music.
MH: Well are you going to sing something for me?
RM: No! I have nothing prepared! Anyway from there I did a short course at Beauty Base (which is now called Mai Lee’s Beauty Academy) because if I was going to do make up I would need to be fully confident in the application and techniques. Mai Lee actually kept me on after the course and trained me to become an instructor. Since then I have taught in Hong Kong and she actually introduced me to my first celebrity client.
From there I started working in Selfridges for Keihl’s, which I really enjoyed, during which I met a customer who owned a beauty agency specialising in bridal work and I started working with her.
MH: So your journey from studying design at Uni into make-up was quite serene?
RM: Indeed. Once I got into make-up I wanted to explore every avenue so I did bridal, music videos, fashion editorial, beauty pageants, just so I could understand and excel in every aspect of make-up I realised I enjoyed fashion the most. I now specialise in teaching, bridal make-up and make up for music videos. I really do enjoy fashion editorial and love the buzz of working backstage at fashion shows. I assisted for a season at London Fashion week and it was amazing but my passion lies in teaching and music videos.
MH: Who inspires you and whom would you like to work with?
RM: Definitely Pat McGrath. While I was studying fashion John Galliano and what he was doing at Dior, as well as Tom Ford at Gucci inspired me. Donna Karan and Miuccia Prada also stood out for me. I used to watch the shows and be inspired by the make-up as well and noticed that Pat McGrath did most of the make-up for all the major shows. While studying I did a day course with Adam de Cruz and just his technique, the way he did foundation, was inspiring. Of course Mai Lee also inspired me largely with her techniques. Sam Fine has also been major for me. I actually did a course with him as well when he came to London.
MH: With your knowledge of all these techniques could we see a RuMel Beauty school being opened in the near future?
RM: Yes definitely I’m always teaching one-to -one or in a classroom. It is something I will always do regardless of my schedule.
MH: So after make-up what was your next venture?
RM: My latest venture was born out of working with one of my clients, The Floacist, previously from the group Floetry. I was working on her video “Let Me” from her fist solo project. The concept for the video included her being naked and she gave me certain colours that she wanted to use with body paints and accessories, which were gold, amethyst and purple. Of course I am thinking we have to cover her vital areas so we started discussing ideas such as flowers, crystals etc. We settled on crystals so I started sketching and coming up with ideas that tied in with the theme goddess. From that I thought pasties but crystallised beautiful pasties. The first one was made of a really fine natural coloured mesh and I also made a thong both of which were covered with Swarovski crystals. When I finished the pieces I thought “I think I have made something here” they were beautiful and she loved them.
MH: So that is how RuMel Jewels was born?
RM: Yes indeed. Even the ear cuffs I did on her I had to stick onto her ear as I didn’t have a cuff made at that point and it worked. Plus it stayed on for the whole video, which was important. From that I went on to create the original collection of ear cuff, cocktail ring and pasties in purple & gold, topaz, emerald and amethyst.
MH: So you didn’t go with the thong?
RM: No, but once I start expanding RuMel Jewels could move into lingerie. Crystallised custom made pieces. I have many ideas but I have to let the pieces develop now and maybe produce different colours to cater for my clients. I find that people understand the pieces. They are quite conceptual and quite bold.
MH: Yes they sure are bold but also beautiful. I think they also inspire confidence.
RM: I am glad you said that, they are meant to bring out your inner sexiness without being vulgar. The trend has been for the past few seasons to wear sheer blouses or tops with a black bra or sometimes bra that doesn’t go with anything they are wearing. These are oversized pasties so they can be worn instead of a bra to cover but also to be seen. They aren’t something just to be worn at home also you have the ring or ear cuff that compliments them,
MH: As someone who is very conscious of how they present themselves, how do these pieces fit in with your personal style?
RM: My personal style is quirky, I also wear many vintage pieces but my style is very much unusual. I like to mix and match and just present my personality with how I dress so the pasties and other items fit in perfectly.
MH: What keeps you motivated?
RM: I am a natural optimist so I find that I motivate myself. If I don’t push myself no one is going to do it for me. I thrive off the love for beautiful things, when I wake up in the morning I just have the desire to create.
MH: So what is the next project lined up?
RM: I can’t say! I am currently involved with managing a hair salon with my sister and a few friends but you will have to wait and see the other projects I have coming up soon.
MH: Right now you look very mysterious.
RM: I have some really good people in my life as well as great mentors who I have discussed the idea with and they agree the idea is feasible. Right now I want to let RuMel Jewels breathe and grow more. When RuMel Jewels was launched I received a lot of good press so I am anticipating international growth.
MH: If you could collaborate with one designer on a limited collection who would it be?
RM: The first name in my head is Alexander Wang; I really like his style, his cuts and also leather work. Also Maison Martin Margiela I like the way they don’t really follow guidelines.
MH: So you are rebel?
RM: I am a rebel, I am. For me RuMel Jewels is an expression. It was conceived during a video that was very expressive.
MH: What do you do in your very scarce spare time?
RM: I like to go the gym. I like to do girly things, I like to cook and I love to eat. I know cook, eat and gym don’t really go together but you have to balance. I like going to spas, getting pedicures, manicures and I love to travel.
MH: Finally, what advice would you give to someone who is starting out and wanting to create something of his or her own?
RM: Your network is your net worth. You have to go out and meet people and create good connections. No matter what it is you plan to do you have to do research so you know what you are getting into, what sacrifices are needed.
MH: What scarifies have you had to make along the way to achieve your dreams?
RM: Definitely your time is the biggest asset. So much time is spent researching, making things, discussing ideas, talking through ideas. Personally, relationships have been sacrificed also time with family and friends. Just hanging out is not really possible I have also missed quite a few milestone birthday parties of friends. There is a lot of sacrifice but it is worth it in the end. If you are passionate about something and you want to see it work you will push it till the end.
To view the full collection or contact information please visit www.rumeljewels.com or @rumeljewels.