This story is part of GQ’s Modern Lovers issue.
To understand the cosmic bond between streetwear designer Melody Ehsani and her husband, Flea, gaze upon photographs of their 2019 wedding, where you’ll see the Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist in a lilac double-breasted Undercover tuxedo with a mint green bow tie and Ehsani in a nude fishtail gown appliquéd with a garden of white sequined lilies. It wasn’t, from a style standpoint, a “day for her” or a “day for him,” but instead a day for two major matrimonial fits, freaking it in glorious tandem.
“What I was looking for in a partner was mutuality,” says Ehsani, who launched her eponymous streetwear label in 2008 and will be curating footwear collections and designing capsule collections with Foot Locker over the next two years. “Somebody that wasn’t really in competition with me, and encouraged me to be my whole self.”
“One of the things that drew me to Melody really intensely,” adds Flea, “was her strength, and her passion, and her unwavering commitment and belief that manifests in every part of her life.” Flea, who also acts, produces, runs a nonprofit, wrote a best-selling memoir last year, and is now working on a novel, is “not someone for whom any of my interests are, like, passing fancies.” Ehsani is equally obsessive, he says: “This woman is a powerhouse!”
Still, that has its challenges: “I’m a spoiled rock star,” Flea explains. “I’m used to having managers and people working for me doing what I want, and getting me what I want.” Sometimes, he adds, “I want someone to sit there and mommy me through all my stuff.”
The couple—who call each other Mook—acknowledge that they like to fight. After meeting at a gala for Flea’s nonprofit—his pickup line was “Do you want to start a two-person book club?” which, well, she did—they married just 13 months later, without having cohabited, ever. Flea credits Ehsani with “a real emotional, spiritual development.” They have “enough faith in the entity,” he says, “and the sacred bond of the relationship in itself, to be mad at each other. It’s okay to walk away and reflect on it and come back.”
It’s in matters sartorial that they find more traditional marital bliss. Flea has a Technicolor bizarro-dream sense of style—surely you’ve seen images of his legendary stuffed-animal pants and noticed that his hairstyle has as many varieties as children’s cereal. He’s just as well known for performing naked. “I love suits,” he says. “The birthday suit is a suit. I like things that match—the nude form matches.”
“I think the best-dressed person of all time is Charlie Chaplin,” Flea tells me. “I don’t really know anything about fashion. I know what I like and what I’m attracted to. I like things that are handmade, and made with care. And I love beauty and expression.”
Still, he says he’s expanded his sartorial horizons since Ehsani came along. “I’m anti-brand,” he says—or he used to be. “I’m going to pay for something and then advertise for you? That’s a rip-off. But Mel has a different approach to that.”
“You have to think about the different times we grew up in,” says Ehsani, who is 20 years Flea’s junior. “I grew up with hip-hop, so it was all about logos and branding. You wanted ‘FUBU’ on your chest. Flea grew up more with punk rock, where you didn’t subscribe to that at all.” But now he often appears on her Instagram decked out in her goods.
Though she often borrows his clothes, Ehsani speaks gingerly about Flea’s influence on her own wild style. “There are things that I don’t really understand,” she ventures, “that look like…maybe…a homeless person owned it. There’s this coat—”
Flea knows the one. “I went to a store in Berlin and discovered this brand Geoffrey B. Small”—the cult avant-gardist who makes his painstakingly rumpled, shrunken clothing by hand. “So you can see how I’m into Charlie Chaplin.”
But the couple can easily overcome their wardrobe differences. “I love expression,” Ehsani says, echoing her husband. “It’s about freedom and feeling comfortable in wearing what you want.”
Still, neither Ehsani nor Flea sees personal style—or their feisty, healthy arguments—at the center of their relationship. “I’m someone who has a relationship with God, and I usually meditate every day, although I haven’t kept up as well with that practice,” Flea says. “And before Melody, I had never had a relationship with someone who believed in God, who had a spiritual life. She is someone who is at one with God, and I seek to do that, even though I fail at it.”
“Remember when we prayed every morning on our honeymoon?” he asks, blissfully.
“That was awesome,” Ehsani says. “I wrote the prayers myself.”
A version of this story originally appeared in the March 2021 issue with the title “Big Love and Huge Fits.”
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Photographs by Sandy Kim
Makeup by Toby Fleischman