11 Questions with Fashion Designer Margherita Missoni

Margherita Missoni
Margherita Missoni

Photo Credit: Filippo Avandero

Margherita Missoni is instantly recognizable as the fashionable heiress to the Missoni family fortune, but the Milan-born beauty is also a designer in her own right. Every day after school growing up in Italyshe would go into her mother’s office and make use of the pencils, markers, fabrics and beads she found there. She would daydream about becoming a designer like her mother, and grandmother before her. After spending time at Columbia University in New York, where she studied acting and also acted as the Missoni Brand Ambassador, she finally moved back to Italy, where, she notes, “it felt right.”

“It’s often like that,” she says. “One travels far, to realize that it was right next to you. My husband [race car driver Eugenio Amos] and I share a very strong sense of belonging to the town outside of Milan where we both grew up and we would love for our baby son [Otto] and the other children to come to experience that: to know that they are free to express, create and explore, but know there is a place where they can always go back to. A place where there is no judgment because there are no right or wrong choices.”

This is what inspired her Margherita collection for kids, a brand which has roots in her background and comes to life through her experiences: the things she’s seen, the people she’s met and the places she’s been. We sat down with Missoni to discuss her collection (which is sold exclusively at Nordstrom), motherhood, and the secrets of her sartorial success.

The Margherita collection for kids
The Margherita collection for kids

Why did you decide to launch this collection dedicated to kids?

Growing up, I saw the world as an inspiring place full of interesting people. I want the Margherita kids collection to expose Otto and children like him to a similar world of possibilities. This new phase of my career came as a spontaneous step forward, just as it had for my mother, who was encouraged by her parents to do what made her happy, whether that was farming and raising organic chickens, teaching at a kindergarten, or designing her own Angela Missoni collection. Therefore, my mother’s blessing could not have been more sincere when it was my time to step forward and develop something of my own – the Margherita collection.

Of course, the birth of my first baby boy, Otto, was a huge source of inspiration and the last push that I needed to choose this new direction of my career.

What does this collection tell about you?

With the collection, I am creating my own brand which is rooted in my background and inspired by my life experiences: the things I’ve seen, the people I’ve met, the places I’ve been… My hope for this brand is to nurture a creative instinct in children offering them the same freedom that I was so lucky to grow up with. Because of the infinite possibilities of mixing and matching, both children and parents can choose whichever garments they like and never go wrong. It’s all about nurturing expression and individuality – anything is possible.

Which is your first memory of your childhood?

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.

How has your family influenced you and your style?

I think that style, taste, and choices in general, are forged by everything that surrounds you – everything you see, taste, touch, smell and hear. So of course, my family has influenced me as a person and in my own style, but so have all the experiences that I went through as an individual.

When did you discover your passion for fashion?

Every little detail of my life is, and has always been, surrounded by fashion – from the cup I drink my coffee from in the morning to my constant travels  – fashion always pops up somewhere and somehow.

How did becoming a mother change your sense of fashion?

I am much more at ease with myself and my choices in general – I trust myself more. Also, comfort, more than anything else, has climbed the scale of priorities in my life.

Has your son inspired you in creating your brand and this collection?

I think creative people are inspired by everything that surrounds them and yes, of course Otto is a source of inspiration. He  has been the best learning experience I could ever have wished for. I must say that I knew so little about “what children need” before his birth. Thanks to him, I have been able to focus more and more on children’s wear.

You are a designer, a mom and a wife. What is the secret of your success?

Just being myself by doing what I like without falling into situations that feel forced and don’t belong to me. Of course I know that I am lucky and I embrace that, but I am also very thankful.

Which is the part that you love most in creating the collection (i.e. researching, choosing the fabrics, etc.)?

When you start your own project, every single detail is interesting, from the research to fabric outsourcing. I’ve been passionate about every part of creating this collection.

Do the fabrics play a central role in your collections?

Fabrics are extremely important in a baby’s life – children should feel cozy and comfortable in what they wear. Washed linen and soft, quilted jerseys were chosen for their comfort, just like the soft cotton we used for the color blocked sweaters.

Why did you choose to partner with Nordstrom as the American retailer for your debut collection?

Cary Leitzes approached me at the right time: just when I had the idea of developing a children’s line on my mind. I had worked with her before on successful projects in the past, hence i was confident in her judgement- she’s the one who brought Nordstrom in the equation and I was very happy that she did so, because, thanks to my family’s years long experience, I know what reliable partners they are, on top of having one of the best kids fashion departments in America.