I’ve been surrounded by fashion since the day I was born.
My mother was a top fashion illustrator whose studio was always filled with models and racks full of the latest fashions.
When I was 5, my father brought home an antique matador suit on his return from a trip to Spain. It fascinated me. The intricate embroidery, all the curious tailoring details hidden inside of it, and how it was constructed in such a defined way.
When I tried it on, I felt immediately transformed. Confident. And very very cool.
Looking back, that matador suit was the reason I became a designer- and, as such, whatever I am creating, whether it’s custom made stage clothes or manufactured ready to wear, the intent is always the same. The customer should see it, love it, put it on and feel like the most amazing version of themselves.
I studied fashion at Otis Parsons and Parsons in Paris.
Immediately after graduation, I was hired to design custom-made outfits for Madonna in a series of Japanese TV commercials for Mitsubishi.
Madonna also wore one of those custom-made outfits for her ‘You Can Dance’ album cover, and a replica of it was made for her figure in the Hollywood Wax Museum.
I went on to design costumes for Madonna’s “Who’s That Girl” world tour.
Following that, I designed a huge Vegas production show for Suzanne Somers which marked the beginning of closely collaborating with her on countless projects for TV, magazine covers, red carpet appearances, home shopping networks, more Vegas shows, direct to consumer fashion, and so much more..
The New York Times Magazine's annual year-end issue "The Lives They Lead" memorialized Suzanne with a photo essay featuring some of the first costumes I designed for her Vegas show .
I continued doing costumes for a diverse range of performers including David Lee Roth’s Skyscraper World Tour & videos, Ice skater Nancy Kerrigan’s Ice Shows & competition looks, and if that’s not diverse enough, throw in Barry Manilow!
Barry Manilow is another of my career long clients- I've designed his tours, TV specials, Broadway shows, and his many Vegas residencies - I am currently designing his 2024 Vegas residency & tour looks.
In the early years of my career, in between costuming jobs, I launched Leslie Hamel Jeans, a line of high end denim. When Madonna was featured wearing them on the cover of People Magazine’s Best and Worst Dressed issue, the business really took off, selling in all the top stores worldwide.
My jeans have been featured in museum fashion exhibitions, Christie’s Pop Culture auction, fashion magazines, news publications and TV shows.
I also launched a line of handbags, Leslie Hamel Atelier a few years after the jeans line while working with Suzanne on a weekly TV series doing custom-made outfits for each episode over 2 seasons.
Suzanne and I then partnered on a line of loungewear for TV’s Home Shopping Network. The loungewear was a huge hit and I ran with it, quickly expanding the business into a total lifestyle brand with monthly collections of fashion spanning loungewear to evening wear, CZ jewelry, footwear, eyewear, handbags, belts, bedding & home decor items, and partnered again in business when I created the 3 Way Poncho, the world’s most versatile piece of clothing, selling on TV infomercials and in the “As seen on TV” sections of every mass retailer.
I’ve had decades of experience in virtually every facet of clothing, jewelry and accessory design. I’m really tired.. Just kidding.. I LOVE what I do!