Mecha models in all shapes, colors and sizes peek out of the street window of the
Misolka shop in Etienne Marcel. Misolka definitely distinguishes itself from the other
high fashion brands in the area with its variety of creative expressions in the form of
Mecha wear clothing, graffiti and acrylic paintings and paper toys. Situated in the
first arrondissement of Paris the shop is held by Italian-French designer and artist
Alex Rossi. I ventured inside during my last stay in Paris to find out a bit more about
Alex Rossi’s passion for Mecha and Misolka’s amalgamation of diverse clothing
styles ranging from hip hop to Asian folklore.
Written by Linda Jensen
You established your brand ten years ago- tell me a bit about your beginning. What
hardships have you encountered ?
Cartoons, graphic design, animation, music, sport are among the many creative forms of expression that I
wanted to interpret through fashion, in its cut, its utility and its message. I’ve been exploring since the age
of 19 and launched my first collection in 1996.
Initiating the field of fashion when you’re young and inexperimented is difficult: the lingering hopes and
inevitable deceptions. The Parisian public is in my opinion the most challenging consumers to penetrate
into in Europe: bitter, jealous, conceited and narrow-minded in regards to innovation. But I also perceive
it to be the best hurdle possible; if you can succeed in Paris you can succeed anywhere.
Where does the brand name Misolka comes from ?
Misolka derives from the French word “camisol” (de force) which means straitjacket. It is in reference to
the straitjacket used to harness mentaly ill patients in psychiatric hospitals. The straitjacket was an object in
vogue in the hip hop culture during the mid 1990s (because of Busta Rhymes and Gravediggaz). The word
Misolka is also verlan, a French slang that uses backward words. This gave it Russian and Asian phonetic
sounding name.
What fascinates you about fashion ? Why is there this Japanese-style edge to your work ?
Clothing acts as our secondary skin as well as being a visual and personal reflection of our self. It protect
us, reassures us while simultaneously allowing for a communication whith others. I’m captivated by its
semiological quality, its means ofexpressig a non-verbal message. I have been fascinated by the realm of
futuristic japanese animations since my early childhood. I filled my void of loneliness by drawing the hereos
and their environments. Recreating these characters was a form of escapism for me, a sort of diversion from
my unsatisfactory childhood.
Street wear is somewhat new term for something that many people find hard to describe,
however there seems to be a shared understanding of what it is and what it is not. How do
you define the term yourself ?
Regarding “street wear” I think it’s a term fabricated by the press to label everything that happened
creatively in fashion ten years ago. I honestly don’t think they really understood our codes, our desires
and the reasons behind our endeavours. Too bad! Those who know never felt the need to elucidate, as
to the others I think it would be too complicated to explain.
Is Misolka Street Wear?
No, I would not classify Misolka as a “street wear” brand but rather a sartorial expression resulting from
different tendencies of my generation. My inspirations include military costumes for their all-terrain
functionality, sports for its technological textiles, hip hop for its codes of behaviour, Asian folklore for its
refined aesthetic cut and last but not least Mecha (robots) for their futuristic quality and their architectural
I see, and is there a special descriptor name for your creations ?
I call it “Mecha wear” in reference to the japanese robot designers (Mecha designers). In japanese,
the word mecha is an abbreviation of the english “mechanical” and is used to refer to all mechanical
objects, real-world or fictional. In sort it’s through illustration, graphic design, movies and paper
sculptures that i continue to playfully escape.
I love toys! When I look at how toys have become such a cultural phenomenon today, I can’t help
smiling because ten years ago people took you for a weirdo as soon as the topic of toys or sneakers
was mentioned and now its super trendy.
You have been working on aside project called Sneakeaters, what’s that all about ?
“Sneakeaters” is one of my current projects of paper toys. It’s a mix between my passion for toys and
for the brand Nike. My characters are based on the scary movie comedy of Gremlins. I find it stupid to
collect sneakers and to then simply leave them in their boxes. So my boxes have come to life in which
they rebel and attack their owners. It’s just like in the good old B-movies from the 80s such as Tales from
the Crypt and Jeepers Creepers. Making paper sculptures is a real passion of mine which interwines
with the meticulous skill of making templates with the ability to build human size models.
You met graffiti artist Alex Mac ? in 2002 in which you together worked on a series of
portraits. Simply put what is your statement in your art works with Alex ? Why use
Samuraïs, models and sportsmen ?
Alex MAC excels in the genre of realism and it was an honor to adorn his portraits with acrylic paint.
It was a great exchange of artistic know-how.
The statement behind the portraits corresponds to three notions of life. First there’s the evolution of the
warrior with the theme of Samouraïs. Then we wanted to express the idea of love with the “muses”
portraits in which the women are rendered in a futurist “Mucha” style. Thirdly we created the series of
winners with icons of our generation namely Mike Tyson, Michael Jordan and Bruce Lee.
The key to success is longevity. How do you apply this to yourself and your company ?
My personal goal lives in the longevity and the continuity of my childhood dreams.