Liberty’s first fashion design graduate Melissa Breaux is still chasing dreams on the runway
Melissa Breaux’s dream of being in the fashion industry began as a little girl. She recalls putting clothes together for her Barbie dolls before knowing how to use a sewing machine.
Growing up, fashion always remained her dream, but years passed before she accomplished it. As a high school graduate, unable to pay for college, she put her dream on hold and joined the Navy.
Soon after she joined the Navy, she began dating the man who became her husband, and they have been married for 27 years. Although her dreams of pursuing fashion were still there, taking care of her family and homeschooling her kids became Breaux’s top priority. Regardless, when her four kids began going off to college one by one, she realized her initial dream was still very much alive.
“When my oldest son was getting ready to be a senior in high school,” Breaux said, “we had some people tell us that the best thing you could do, for a homeschooling mom, is to start focusing on yourself – on what’s next.”
This advice, along with the encouragement of her husband, gave Breaux the extra push she needed, and she decided to go back to college.
They lived in Louisiana at the time, and she began pursuing a degree through Liberty University’s online school. But to her surprise, Breaux’s husband got a job at Liberty and the whole family moved to Lynchburg, Virginia. Breaux enrolled in school residentially, and she became Liberty’s first fashion design graduate.
“At first I took fashion merchandising,” Breaux said. “I took the classes I loved, participated in the LU fashion show the three years that I was a student, and the last year, my senior year, they (Liberty) opened up the fashion design degree which I ended up switching to.”
With a fashion design degree under her belt, Breaux was even closer to fulfilling her life-long dream. Her “big break” as a fashion designer came when she participated in Central Virginia’s fashion show recently. But Breaux had no idea that one of the models she had picked to model her clothes had a very large Instagram following.
“She (her model) was actually cast to be in a reality TV show,” Breaux said. “I got in contact with them (the show) and told them if they needed any fashion designers, they could let me know. By the end of that week, I was cast to be on the show and set to present at New York Fashion Week in February.”
All this happened near the end of November 2019, and Breaux recalls the stress of having to put a collection together on such a short notice, given that New York Fashion Week was only about three months away. Her show in New York skyrocketed her reputation and landed her other fashion week gigs at different locations.
For Breaux, the shows are very exciting, but her end goal is to launch her own clothing line. Additionally, she wants to start a non-profit in order to provide clothing for missionaries on the field.
Despite the fact that her fashion dream took longer than she anticipated, Breaux said she believes it happened right when it needed to. Although her husband had been a believer earlier in his life, Breaux didn’t become a believer until after they had their first child.
“If I would’ve started on this path beforehand,” Breaux said, “I don’t know if I would’ve been in the position to listen to God. I was very self-sufficient, self-determined, and I think I needed to let go of myself before I could even think about it (fashion). Now I have more time and energy to make it more about God than I would’ve had I done it straight out of high school.”
Breaux agrees that the fashion industry is one that needs more influence from believers, which is why, as a Christian, she wants to make sure she is focusing on the people she serves.
Even when it comes to her models, she does not desire to stick to the industry’s body standards. This allows her to give models that would otherwise be rejected an opportunity at participating in shows.
“The tagline that I’ve developed for this is ‘Apparel for All,’” Breaux said. “Including anybody, any person, because each one is made in God’s image and each one is loved by him. Using a variety of models has been a huge part of it for me.”
Breaux is scheduled for a fashion show in Los Angeles, California, this coming August as well as another one in Orlando, Florida, in October, if circumstances allow. Breaux said that many of her New York fashion week opportunities have been postponed due to COVID-19. She expects her career as a designer to keep growing from there but recognizes that every different step in her journey has been important in leading her to where she is today — including the time spent putting clothes together for those Barbies.
Rosa Elías is a Feature writer. Follow her on Twitter @rosaeliasnajri