When we first got to know of Melissa Chow, we were really impressed with her story of overcoming her self-consciousness as a result of her medical condition. She suffers from severe palmer hyperhidrosis (a medical condition characterised by excessive sweating on the palms) and needless to say, it has impacted her life. Nonetheless, Melissa pushed through and is an aspiring Fashion Image Consultant and Fashion Designer and has just completed her studies at the School of Fashion at LASALLE College of the Arts.
Melissa definitely has an eye for fashion and designing, coupled with knowledge gained through experience in fashion industry such as womenswear fashion house Gab Noble International and menswear tailoring business Raphael Gabriel. She came up with her collection concept on a casual day in 2017 during summer break while trimming her nails in the midst of brainstorming. Her medical condition sparked the idea to create a collection that is able to provide relief to sufferers of the same. Granted, it took her a while to finalise the concept as it meant that her medical condition will come to light when speaking about the collection.
As she approached sponsors for her collection, Melissa reached out to sportswear brands although she did not intend to create a sportswear line initially due to the type of fabrics used. As it is a local initiative, UNIQLO provided her with their collection of inner wear and gave her permission to deconstruct and strategically integrate their AIRism material into her garments.
One of the pieces from Melissa’s RESPIRE Collection
Her graduation collection was up during The LASALLE Show Exhibition 2018 (17-30 May) where members of the public could buy other students’ works and 30% of the proceeds went towards the loveLASALLE Education fund for bursaries.
We decided to find out more about the woman behind the collection and to learn what drives her.
Q: What attracted you to fashion design and image consulting?
I always had an eye and interest for fashion and designing from a young age: from mixing and matching pieces or even draping scrap fabrics I could find on Barbie dolls, to designing my team’s competition leotard costume when I was still in Rhythmic Gymnastics, to eventually designing and producing my own prom dress by hand in secondary school.
The process of making some of the pieces in the collection
I prefer understanding the technical aspects to just enjoying the tangible properties of a garment, like aesthetics or texture, and I feel that fashion and style comes from within – which further increased my attraction to fashion image consulting, where I can aid women in designing and shaping their individual personalities by also building a good rapport with clients through interaction and hopefully trust.
Q: How do you think your medical condition has affected your school life and career choice?
Hyperhidrosis has generally affected me in many ways, besides just my school life and career choice. My classmates would not understand why my palms were always so ‘wet’ when I was younger, and now, the line of work I have decided to go into requires a lot of hands-on activity. My medical condition can cause certain inconveniences or disadvantages including drawbacks to properly handling certain fabrics, or simply hand sewing with a needle and thread.
How sweat and water stains inspired her to have the same effects on her pieces
Q: Has your excessive sweating on the palms caused you to have any negative body image and if so, how did you overcome it?
Definitely! I would be lying if I said that I have completely overcome my self consciousness and lowered self-esteem due to my excessive sweating on the palms. I am still learning to fully accept and embrace this condition of mine. Choosing to apply my medical condition as my graduating project’s concept was in fact a huge decision to make as that would mean that I would have to open up about it and also research and write a graduating dissertation based on it. It was without a doubt interesting to research my own medical condition, as well as how I can link a medical condition to fashion. It also reminded myself of how I am not alone as there are many others suffering from hyperhidrosis on other parts of the body as well.
Q: What advice would you give to those who suffer the same condition?
It is not easy to simply fully accept this issue, and if you haven’t, that is completely okay. Although hyperhidrosis can affect our well being and cause many other psychological impacts, it is merely a physical condition and it does not define us or change who we are.
Wear comfortable clothing and embrace your inner beauty; sometimes what we put on on the exterior can affect the way we feel about ourselves too!
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
I would love to be able to further develop on my most recent graduating project based on hyperhidrosis if possible.
Q: Any last words to our readers?
As cliché as it may sound, love yourself!
It is so important to at least try to feel comfortable in your own skin, but this confidence and willpower has to also come from within.
Melissa is determined to continue her career path by helping women in shaping their individual personalities through Image Consulting and we wish her all the best in her future endeavours! Do check out Melissa’s portfolio at https://melissa-cjh.squarespace.com/sewn/.
Photo credits: Melissa Chow and LASALLE College of the Arts