When Melanie Gaydos and I talk on a hot Wednesday afternoon she is in the middle of a cross-country relocation from NY to LA. The last time I’d seen her before at some industry event, where she had been bejeweled and surrounded by a bevy of the typical good looking New York hipster set. By the time I went to introduce myself she was gone, swallowed by the Manhattan air. Now she resides in sunny California, land of the famous and more famous.
“A lot of my friends were surprised because I was always like, ’Eww, I hate LA but I literally decided within a week, fuck it, I’m moving,” she discloses.
Melanie is an obscure force in the fashion world. Search the internet for her name and a spectacle of beautiful imagery returns. Her approach to fashion is timeless in the way you can appreciate a Van Gogh painting today. There is something so mystically and hauntingly beautiful about the shapes, the curves, the light on her face, the role of the demented muse she plays so well. Diagnosed with ectodermal dysplasia, which caused baldness and absence of teeth, Melanie’s career choice might have baffled a few. There has never been anything like her, but she exploded into the pages of magazines and blogs with a confidence and a force that revolutionized the fashion world and beauty as we know it.
Melanie has hit her stride at this point in her career working with some of the most notable creatives on an international platform. You might have seen her starring in Rammstein’s “Mein Herz Brennt”, directed by Eugenio Recency a project that pushed her to the front of the sought after list for visionaries, or from her Style Like You , What’s Underneath Project, which was her first video interview. It went viral and put her on the platform as a public figure. Now Melanie is chasing the big screen in Hollywood with a few pictures in the works and a lifetime of dreams in the making. We take inventory with Melanie on how things are going now and whats next.
You broke through so many barriers with modeling and being a personality. It was sort of a first for someone with ectodermal dysplasia. Do you consider yourself to be a ‘model’?
I consider myself more an artist than anything. Modeling and acting is just what I’m using right now to express myself. I will always probably be modeling in some way. I prefer working with artists more than being in the fashion industry. Fashion is kind of boring me lately. My best fashion work is when I’m working with people who are my friends. I don’t really care about the fashion industry right now, I’m moving more towards film. The fashion I really want to do is like Paris Fashion week. I only really enjoy fashion in Europe. The reason I moved to LA was to to pursue film so I can make more money out here and get credentials. Then I will be able to go anywhere in the world. My dream is to live and work in Europe so hopefully that will be within the next few years and maybe then I will pursue more fashion. I think right now I’m just kind of bored and need to explore other avenues. I get a lot of work in NY but I want even more work and I think coming to LA will help!
Do you feel like you are living your dream? What is your mantra?
I just keep moving forward, I literally just keep moving forward. I don’t think about too many things and I try to eliminate any fears. Fear and worry is so unnecessary it just limits you. It’s stuff that is not real. It’s just stuff that we make up inside our mind. The only thing that is real is what you are doing now. Just be active. Just go for it. I was always a go-getter but I’m trying now to live with even less reserve. I want to live with no reservation in my head. I think living in NY helped me realize that at a faster pace. You just have to keep moving forward and not worry about things that haven’t happened yet, or that aren’t actually happening. Don’t worry about what other people think about. What other people think of you is normally bullshit they are projecting anyway. Concern yourself with what is happening right now and where you want to be. The possibilities are endless, it’s baffling how many people don’t realize this. The world can be so much better if only you let it be.
What was it like after you did your Style Like You, ‘What’s Underneath’ project? That seemed like such an exposing interview.
Omg. That was super personal. That was the first in-person interview I’d done and especially on video. They like chased me for three months because I kept telling them no. It was a difficult transition for me. The reason I was hesitant is because I’m an all or nothing type of girl. If I agree to do something, I put all of myself into whatever the project is. I knew that I had to say everything that came to mind and I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that. The interview ended up being a 3 to 4 hour thing that they condensed into 20 minutes. They had way more content than they used. When I left I was freaking out like what are they going to use?! After it came out, it was weird. First, bloggers in NY were recognizing me, then it went viral and I got recognized everywhere. At first it freaked me out, but then I realized I am helping people just by existing by being myself and living my truth. It’s really nice, I appreciate it now. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t enjoy being recognized when I first started this, but now I like it. I get so many messages and comments. People write to me and talk to me on instagram, like, “Oh I just saw you 5 minutes ago and I was too scared to come say hi.” I’m just like, “Come say hi!”
I would like people not to overthink things anymore. I can understand I do have kind a resting bitch face, but regardless of what I look like, if you see someone you admire, or even the people that you love, you should feel free to express yourself.
What was it like rising to fame in the world of the blogosphere? You have starred in a Rammstein video. Your friends with Miley Cyrus. Has it all been a whirlwind?
A lot of it I don’t really pay attention to. When I first started I read everything, even the mean things. I just wanted to see what people were saying. I like information, just like I don’t like what people are saying doesn’t mean I’m going to ignore it. Now I don’t really are about the media.
Did you ever feel consumed by your fame?
No! I don’t give a fuck about that. I literally don’t.
Did you notice your friends were?
I lost a lot of friends when I started modeling. My childhood friends were like, ‘What are you doing?’ My family freaked out. I talked about them in interviews they hated that. It was the threat of privacy the threat of what people think about you. A lot of my friends thought I would change, My friends would talk about me like, ‘Oh Melanie is too big now for her own good.’
I’m maybe not the same person when I was younger but I feel like I’m s stronger person now. I feel like a really good person. I talk to anyone, I don’t judge them for whatever situation they are in. All the people who have said nasty things to me have just been insecure with themselves. They didn’t feel good about their life or whatever their position was. I don’t consider myself to be this famous person, It doesn’t mean anything if a lot of people know who you are. Everything always looks better online. Unless I’m living in a mansion and flying first class…I know where I stand people can say what they want it doesn’t mean anything to me. If you are making judgment you aren’t my best friend. I’ve had photographers write me messages after I started doing interview and articles, and say, ‘I was the first person to treat you as a human being. I was the first person to shoot you. I was just thinking, why are you even coming at me with the most random stuff? It’s not like I didn’t credit them. would get emails in the middle of the night like damn obvious this person is thinking a lot and feeling some type of way. These are just some things I have been through, they don’t affect me anymore and I’ve forgiven them but its the kind of stuff you don’t forget. I just wish people would be more aware of the bullshit.
What are some of your fantasy projects?
I would love to work with Nick Knight. Right now I really want to get on Game Of Thrones. Aesthetically, why the fuck not I would be perfect. Even though next season is the last season. I just did a shoot with Tim Walker for LOVE magazine and that was an ultimate dream for me. I would love to shoot with him again. I would love to shoot with Mert and Marcus. I really want to walk in Paris fashion week.
Do you have any relaxing hobbies?
My whole secret to all of this is meditation. I’m an insomniac so I can never sleep. I learned at an early age even if I cant sleep to say calm and grounded and relaxed. Even though I’m always doing stuff, I always have both feet on the ground and try to stay centered. Work in my priority right now. I don’t care about partying or social stuff, I ust want to work. When I was younger I did a lot of drugs, I went to all the clubs. I sort off got that out of my system when I started modeling, it helped me prioritize.
When I was in NY I had 17 geckos because I was breeding them. I’m going through animal withdrawal right now because I have no animals now. I just got a new sketchy book so ill probably start drawing again.
I moved to NY to go to Pratt for drawing an painting. I did self portraits, thats how I learned how to model and how I got into modeling. Fashion photography was my first inspiration for my own personal artwork. I didn’t know what it was when I was 12, I just knew they were pretty pictures and I loved them. It was all high fashion couture. There was a fantasy element that I became a part of.
My first favorite photographer was Eugenio Recency. He did a whole series of these fairytale couture like pictures. there was Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Rapunzel. I loved the photos so much. When I first started modeling it was through a photographer I met at a fetish club. He was some bridal photographer but he did very fairytale looking work. I told him I loved his work and he asked if he could shoot me. From that point on I just wanted to do it more. I started writing to everyone I wanted to work with and Eugenio was the very first big photographer I wrote. I didn’t think he would read it at all, but he did! His assistant got back to me and thats how I got the Rammstein job. It’s crazy. That was his first music video he was directing and Rammstein was my first favorite metal band. Its crazy how things work.
Any last words
Be true to yourself. Even though that term is overused its so true. A lot of people aren’t. Just go for it. A lot of people ask me who my role models are. I don’t really have any because there is not many people that I can relate to who are doing what I am doing and how I’m doing it. If I hadn’t put myself out there i wouldn’t be aware of the what the world was really like and my potential. Put yourself out there.
photos / Anna Bloda
story / Koko Ntuen