Melissa Simon-Hartman is an English artist, fashion designer, and hand-crafted costume designer. Her design roots are in carnival design but she is now best known for her contribution to Black Is King and most recently Doja Cat's latest music video "Woman".
She is extremely proud of her Trinidadian and Ghanaian heritage, and the cultural influences of her West Indian and West African background can be seen in the work presented through her own label, Simon-Hartman London.
Early life and education
Melissa is an only child born and raised in North-West London, Kilburn to a Ghanaian father and Trinidadian mother. Excelled creatively from a young age. Before choosing her specialism, she studied a diploma in General Art & Design at Barnet College where she was nominated for the Alan Young Art Student of the Year award. After completing her diploma, Melissa attended the prestigious London College of Fashion, (University of the Arts London) and graduated with a degree in Theatrical Costume.
The Simon-Hartman London brand was launched in 2009 after founder Melissa had a vision of creating statement footwear and accessory pieces which could be seen as works of art rather than just something else nice to wear.
Simon-Hartman footwear, A.F.I.A, made its official debut in 2013 at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Berlin, gracing the feet of models showcasing the collection of British celebrity fashion designer and stylist, Romero Bryan. The response to the footwear was overwhelmingly positive. Over the next couple of years, Melissa began to shift away from the footwear aspect as she returned to her roots as an artist and theatrical costume designer, although she never lost sight of the goal of creating a distinctive brand that specialized in the creation and production of wearable and displayable art.
The journey towards what Simon-Hartman London would become today began at Notting Hill Carnival. Melissa started designing for the Notting Hill Carnival at a young age as a Junior designer. Her carnival designs evolved into avant-garde fashion style pieces. Melissa's costumes began appearing in theatre and stage productions, in places such as Ghana, Beijing, Shanghai, Martinique, Italy and on X-Factor in the UK.
Melissa was commissioned to produce costumes for the hit documentary I Am Bolt London movie premiere. Her biggest project would come a short while later, as she was handpicked by Zerina Akers to be one of the designers on the Disney+ production Black Is King, a visual album created by superstar Beyoncé. Melissa has designed for Beyonce twice. For Black Is King and also her upcoming album artwork.
Melissa is also the creative behind the braided costume worn by Doja Cat in her music video "Woman". Melissa has since contributed pieces to the Afrofuturistic set design of the character Safe Odum, played by Ne-Yo in Step Up Season 3 on Starz TV.
Her statement pieces had also featured in Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, The Cut and GQ magazine, and her carnival costumes were displayed in all their glory on a Samsung UK advertisement featured on the Piccadilly Circus billboard during Notting Hill Carnival weekend 2020.
- Kenzie, Warren Mc (27 November 2020). "No Limits with Melissa Simon-Hartman’s Costume and Fashion Design". https://monkmusic.co/no-limits-with-melissa-simone-hartmans-costume-and-fashion-design/.
- "About Us | Celebrity Fashion Designer | Melissa Simon-Hartman" (in en). https://www.simon-hartman.com/about.
- "Beyonce In Melissa Simon Hartman For Black Is King". 1 August 2020. https://fashionsizzle.com/2020/08/01/beyonce-in-melissa-simon-hartman-for-black-is-king/.
- "In Focus: Melissa Simon-Hartman’s bespoke garment inspired by Trinidadian roots for Dojo Cat – Caribeart". http://caribeart.net/en/in-focus-melissa-simon-hartmans-bespoke-garment-inspired-by-trinidadian-roots-for-dojo-cat.
- "First Look at Virtual Notting Hill Carnival… Samsung Release Official 8K Trailer for Notting Hill Carnival 2020: Access All Areas". https://news.samsung.com/uk/first-look-at-virtual-notting-hill-carnival-samsung-release-official-8k-trailer-for-notting-hill-carnival-2020-access-all-areas.
- Smith, Gwendolyn (18 February 2022). "The RSC's new Much Ado About Nothing is stunning, seductive - and muddled" (in en). https://inews.co.uk/culture/arts/much-ado-about-nothing-royal-shakespeare-theatre-review-stunning-seductive-and-muddled-1468780.