The Heavenly Designs of Melvyn Noronha

Iris C F Gomes

Talented, intelligent and empathetic, Melvyn Dominic Noronha has been blessed abundantly and, with his noble intentions of extending these blessings to the less fortunate, he could easily be held up as a role model to many. An artist, a singer, a lyricist, and an internationally known designer, Melvyn also has an engineering degree in Information Technology. That he should have been destined for fame should come as no surprise.

It was chance that began Melvyn’s affair with fashion, when a photograph of a woman in a dancing stance and garbed in a white cloth in a magazine found at a public disposal caught his imagination and fuelled it. His fascinating with this woman prompted him to imagine her at different events and how he would dress her accordingly. ‘Eventually those garments became the sketches at the back of my notebooks, and there begun a love for fashion,’ says Melvyn, who would soon begin admiring Sushmita Sen and Madhuri Dixit, his first celebrity crushes, for their sense of style.

The Miss World contest that was held in India in 1996 was instrumental in manoeuvring the young man in the direction of pageantry fashion. ‘The national costume segment of the show left me in awe. As a lover of history, geography, culture, and travel, the national costume show was the fashion interpretation of my most loved subjects. When I saw the national costumes in the show, I thought to myself that these are the greatest artists in the world,’ says Melvyn, quite unaware at the time that one day his name would shine with the some of the world’s renowned designers. An ever increasing love of the entertainment industry and the production of pageantry inspired a continuous study of it spanning 21 years; something that is of great advantage to him today.

Years of labouring under an educational system that engages students in the process of imbibing huge amounts of information instead of teaching them how to learn and apply knowledge, has, ironically, given Melvyn the ability to multitask. The taxing life of an engineering student somehow moulded him to be able to engage in multiple occupations and still have an appetite for more. Melvyn became ill with typhoid during his engineering course and was forced to opt out of his exams for a semester, which meant that he was left with a whole year with nothing much to do. Grappling with depression and disappointment, a ray of hope appeared when his friend Conroy Pereira urged Melvyn to enter the Kingfisher Voice of Goa contest, and with Conroy’s help, Melvyn took the first place in the singing contest in 2010.

Melvyn describes the win as a humbling experience, ‘The year of the contract was an excellent opportunity to learn and grow by building the stamina to cater to different people with different tastes. That experience, definitely, is responsible for me being able to understand the need to listen and present what is joyful.’

The singing contract made Melvyn realise that being in showbiz essentially required a range of talents. His singing engagements were marked with his flamboyant costumes, which soon saw him singing at fashion shows. When he became involved with fashion choreography, he met Carol Fernandes. He says, ‘Bridal makeup queen Carol Fernandes introduced me to Femina Miss India United Continents 2014 Gail Da Silva. While mentoring Gail, together with Carol and her family, I attended to one of her many requirements, which was the national costume. As our blessings grew, together with my friends, especially Devashish Majumdar, we won the Best National Costume in Ecuador, becoming the first Asians to ever win a fashion contest in Latin America. From there on, there was no looking back.’

After producing the award winning national costume for Gail Da Silva, which was themed ‘Carnival of Indian Cartoons, Toys and Festivals of the Mind of an Indian Child’, Melvyn also created the 3rd Runner-Up Best National Costume (themed ‘Celebration of the Roots of Indian Theatre and Dance’) for Miss International 2014 Jhataleka Malhotra. Miss Summer Asia 2016 Aakanksha Manchanda won Best National Costume as well, thanks to Melvyn and Devashish. These are but a few of the accolades bestowed on this talented young man who has been a designer for numerous Femina Miss India winners representing their country internationally. As of now Melvyn has garnered 19 award placements for India and 2 for the UK, and he has a globally based clientele. He says, ‘We are driven by the blessings that the Lord bestows on us.’

Melvyn’s designs are inspired by the personalities and souls of people, drawing on what is best in them. ‘I like it when I can make something that accentuates and elevates the true positive personality of the person,’ he says. The wisdom of life’s experiences is evident when he acknowledges the fickle nature of the fashion industry. He reflects, ‘The major learning from the fashion circuit is that in fashion one day you are in, and the next day you could be out. In India it is easy to become famous, but it requires diligence, empathy and intelligence to build your artistic empire.’

Although there were people who advised against moving into fashion, Melvyn asserts that it was more out of concern and they were not wrong in their conjectures. ‘The industry is such that you cannot guarantee that you will make it. It's an endless cycle of trying and having hope, and while I was fulfilled and happy just trying and willing to die trying, the people who cared for me motivated me to be practical, and thanks to them I have my engineering degree as a backup,’ he says.

Apart from his fashion triumphs, Melvyn has played Stephen, the carpenter, in The Carpenter’s Cross (an opera directed and composed by Alfwold Silveira and produced by Fr Ralin D’Souza SDB in 2013), enthralling the audience with his mellifluous, powerful voice. Melvyn teaches voice culture and performance skills at his home in Siolim every Friday and Sunday whenever he is in Goa. ‘Teaching definitely has made me better and keeps me in touch with my music,’ says Melvyn, who stays deeply connected to his roots in Goa since he derives his peace and power from his home.

Like attracts like is a true phenomenon seen in Melvyn’s affinity towards assisting the COOJ (Cause of Our Joy) Mental Health Foundation. He has a great admiration for founder Dr Peter Castelino and Donna Noronha and their ability to empathise with people in need. He says, ‘I strongly believe that the more we get, the more we should give. For in giving we make ourselves worthy to receive more. Having faced a sufficient set of challenges in my early youth, it is my loved ones that have kept me surviving and thriving till date. But in a world where pressures have forced people to become more selfish and self-centred, the appropriate social environment is missing for those who don't have their loved ones around them, leading to emotional and mental instability. It is organisations such as COOJ that fulfil this essential need of the community. The task is not easy and definitely not one that can be achieved by a few. Because of that I believe whenever we can, we must bring more value to our lives by stepping up to support such dedicated individuals and organisations.’

Having achieved much at a young age has not come without its hurdles. However Mervyn’s faith is his strong point and unusual in an age that casts belief in God aside the moment things go awry or aspirations are attained. In his sagacity, he says, ‘The journey is never smooth. I've had moments of a series of unfortunate events. But one needs to build the stamina to just face one day at a time. Feel emotions but don't let them rule you. When low moments take over, have faith in the Lord and just do the next right thing to do. Step by step, magically blessings pour in and uplift you. Above all, never underestimate the power of prayer. Learn from your negative situations and keep striving ahead.’