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It's so money: Melillo installs ATM exclusively at Barneys

March 30, 2012 |  4:03 pm

ATM Collage
There's a new ATM at Barneys New York, but it's not the cash-dispensing kind.

ATM by Anthony Thomas Melillo is the name of a new line of über-luxe men's and women's T-shirts -- and just T-shirts -- by designer Tony Melillo, that launched exclusivley in Barneys New York and Barneys Co-op stores in February. To mark the occasion, two of Hollywood's brothers Huvane -- Stephen (the publicist) and Kevin (the agent) -- hosted a party and charity shopping event at the Beverly Hills store on Thursday for Melillo (whom they've known for decades), with 10% of all proceeds from ATM sales going to amfAR.

Launching a label with a single high-end T-shirt might have sounded ridiculous if James Perse hadn't done exactly that, and the designer explained that the hyper-focus on trying to perfect a single basic garment like the T-shirt was a welcome change of pace from some of his other projects, the most high-profile of which is serving as creative director of Selena Gomez's exclusive-to-K-Mart apparel line. (In 2009, Melillo, whose CV includes launching sportswear label Nova USA and a stint at Generra, co-founded licensing company Cynosure Holdings to focus specifically on mass market celebrity clothing lines.)

ATM Tshirts
"The Selena Gomez line did about $100 million in sales last year," Melillo said. "And it's things in every category but it really all comes down to that one key piece sitting on a [display] tabletop. So I decided that for myself I'd try to do just that one key piece without all the rest."

Melillo decided to focus on the humble T-shirt because it was the most basic of basics, and set out to tweak it to achieve what he calls "relaxed elegance." It was a process that would end up taking nine months and resulted in Peruvian-made cotton-based yarns and three fabrics that are exclusive to ATM; a vintage jersey, a slub jersey and a Modal.

"The hardest part was getting the drape right for each fabric," the designer said. "Each fabric had a distinctly different weight and that would affect the way it draped."

Mellillo's efforts seem to have paid off though, giving a measure of effortless luxe to perhaps the least glamorous garment on the planet. (On a dress form on display during the party, the clingy cotton fabric of one woman's T-shirt style and the way it draped effortlessly across the small of the back, was so flat-out sexy I considered buying it a drink.)

The women's offerings include scoop-neck and V-neck T-shirts, a long-sleeve tee and a tank silhouette, with details like subtle pleating on the shoulder and a curved shirttail hem that falls slightly longer in the back. The men's tees are available in a crew-neck, V-neck and tank styles.

The line, which gets its name from the designer's initials, also offers up a fun, almost hidden detail. On every shirt (save the sleeveless tanks), just under the right sleeve and a few clicks from the armpit, is a barely noticeable screenprint of three letters: ATM.  After Melillo points it out, he pushes back his own jacket sleeve to reveal a tattoo of the same three letters inked neatly into his skin at the same spot. 

"I've had the tattoo since I was 17," he said by way of explanation. "And this is my way of giving it a little personal touch." 

The line, which retails from $58 to $72, is currently available in a color palette of gray, blue, black and dusty rose (though with 10 deliveries a year, that will change). The label will expand -- but not much -- for  fall, Melillo said, adding cashmere T-shirts, underwear and layering pieces.  ATM is currently exclusive to Barneys New York locations (including Beverly Hills locally), Barneys Co-op stores and through the retailer's website.


Sinéad O'Connor, Deborah Harry perform at amfAR gala

James Perse takes after designing dad, with a twist

The Elder Statesman's new capsule collection hits Barneys Co-op

-- Adam Tschorn

Photos, from top: Stephen Huvane, from left, Tony Melillo and Kevin Huvane at the March 29 launch party of ATM by Anthony Thomas Melillo T-shirt line at Barneys New York in Beverly Hills. At right, a woman's cotton T' on display. Credit: Donato Sardella / WireImage.

The ATM  T-shirts shown on models. Credit: ATM by Anthony Thomas Melillo