By Wendy Donahue
Before Melissa McCarthy played an unbridled bridesmaid or a spy disguised as a drab desk worker, she aspired to be a real-life fashion designer in New York City.
Today, she sheds her big-screen skin to realize a dream from her childhood in Plainfield, Ill., launching her first-ever clothing line, Melissa McCarthy Seven7. The assortment of trend-conscious basics debuted on HSN.com and is rolling out over the next month at Nordstrom.com, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Von Maur and Lane Bryant, among other retailers, as well as melissamccarthy.com.
In creating her line, she draws from her own experiences fluctuating from a size 6 to 12 and up, and finding her options atrophied the higher she rose.
“I don’t understand why if you’re a certain size, designers think your taste level goes down and you have less money to spend,” she says in her brand brief. “The quality and construction is often so bad. Finding a great T-shirt or a great cigarette pant in a good fabric is next to impossible. Plus-size clothes are often really cheap and either look young or incredibly old.”
Melissa McCarthy Seven7 neither limits itself to regular sizes nor plus sizes. It offers both a size 4 to 16 range and a size 14-28 and 1X-4X range.
“Our woman is not defined by age, size or occupation. She has personality and isn’t afraid to show it,” she says in her brand brief. “I’ve been every size on the planet, and I know for a fact that I didn’t lose my sense of style just because I went above a size 12.”
She cites one of fashion’s cruelest ironies as the impetus for the line: “If 67 percent of the population is estimated to be plus size, why is it so hard to find great clothes?”
McCarthy originally moved to New York to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology. At the time, her close friend and now a famous shoe designer Brian Atwood encouraged her to do stand-up comedy, leading to a change in plans.
Working with costume designers opened access to custom-made clothing. But she wanted to share the joy of wearing flattering, fun clothing with other women.
Attending to proportions is one of her priorities.
“I’m at every single design session, and we fit on models at two sizes, size 16 and size 22, I do not just scale up. I try to bring in thoughtful tailoring like bust darts, pleated backs and blending wovens with knits to provide a great fit and shape for all body types,” she says. “I love clever design details like ruched sleeves and drawstring waistbands that allow for customization, comfort and personal styling.”
Her denim features internal panels for comfortable tummy control, a four-part waistband to prevent gaps, forward seams to visually elongate the leg and flat-seam construction so side seams lie flush against the thigh.
McCarthy collaborated with Sunrise Brands, the licensing company that produces Seven7, to produce the Melissa McCarthy Seven7 Collection. Prices range from $54 to $169.
McCarthy, who has been wearing some of the clothes during “Ghostbusters” filming, wants the pieces to become staples that are wearable season-to-season.
“I don’t want to dress like a waiter, a hooker or the mother of the bride,” she has said. “So now, “I’m making my own closet.”