Creative Director, M Missoni
Margherita Missoni needs no introduction. Her eponymous family business has been around for generations, but make no mistake, this is a woman who not only has aesthetics and business in her DNA but also has an entrepreneurial bent. After spending time away from the family business, first in her studies and then subsequently doing her own ventures, she's come back to her roots to reinvent what M Missoni is today. At the fore, she thinks about what M Missoni stands for (a brand that has Missoni DNA but is hyper-focused on ethical, sustainable production). As she admits, it's near impossible to think about brand building today without sustainability as a part of that equation, and Margherita is working to continue the legacy of this aspirational brand in a new, free way. Drawing inspiration from the bucolic landscapes of Italy and Missoni archives, Margherita is part wild nature part traditionalist.
We were grateful to have the opportunity to learn more about her vision for the brand and her life's journey.
Coming from a family that had a heritage in design, did you know, even at a young age, that you were one day going to help run the business? How were you exposed to the brand at a young age?
When we were children, every day after school, my brother and sister and I would go to my mother’s office. It was full of pencils and marker and fabrics and beads. It was so much fun to be a child and to express my creativity through drawing and to playing dress-up in all of the wonderful and colorful clothes.
You’ve had a few entrepreneurial ventures over the years. Describe the start of your career, your mentors, and how you learned what you know today.
I have been around women running the company since I was a small child. It has always inspired me and pushed me to become better and learn from them at every step. One of the most important things they taught me is to distance myself from the fashion universe, find a look from different perspectives. I learned from them that even though the company is such an important part of our family, there are more important things in life that need to be prioritized such as family and health. I have kept this lesson in the back of my head in everything I do to this day.
You studied philosophy and did some theatre when you were younger, two subjects that seem very different from design. What did those subjects teach you about yourself?
I decided to study philosophy because I guess I felt it was the closest thing to acting: thinking about life and its meaning and why I’m here and what I’m doing. But I was so unhappy—here I was in the place where I wanted to be (I had been dying for city lights after growing up in the countryside) but I didn’t want to be there.
It’s my mom who actually forced me to withdraw from Columbia and put me in acting school. To be clear, I was never going to be an actor. I would never pursue acting now. I was trying to avoid becoming part of fashion. When I was growing up, everyone would ask me, “Are you going to be a designer?” So, of course, I rebelled.I studied philosophy and I went to study acting, and then I moved. I left New York and I moved to Paris to act, then I moved to Rome for a play. And when I was in Rome, it hit me: Fashion is what comes out most naturally and spontaneously for me. That’s what I want to do. It’s always what I wanted. I just had to get there myself.
You’ve now been at the design helm of M Missoni for a couple of years. What were the top three things you wanted to do when you took on that position?
When I was asked to reinvent and give new purpose to the M Missoni collection, I reflected a lot on what M Missoni expressed and where I wanted to go. I decided that this brand would be a new Missoni world, which we called the b-side, and no more a mere low cost copy of Missoni. M, like the name says, stands for a little piece of Missoni, a piece of Missoni DNA, a fragment that is true, and that as such ignites new stories, takes, interpretations. I completely re-shaped M Missoni identity with an attention to ethic and sustainability. It would have been utterly inconceivable to create a new brand without taking sustainability and social responsibility into consideration.
Who is the M Missoni customer and how do you balance newness with the tradition that customers expect from Missoni?
Not determined by age or gender, is very inclusive, free and conscious