A third-generation member of a fashion dynasty, Margherita Maccapani Missoni has grown up without the distinction between clothes for pleasure and clothes for professional pursuit. Since her youth she has been a muse to her mother – Angela Missoni, the Maison’s Creative Director – and a brand ambassador, and in 2006 became the face of Missoni Profumi. Feeling a need to create some space between herself and her family, she moved to New York to study philosophy at Columbia University and to attend the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. But in the end it only drew her closer to the family business: returning to Europe more comfortable in her skin, she designed the sleek, modernist A/W10 accessories for Missoni womenswear. Lina Scheynius and Katie Shillingford spent a day with Margherita in the Italian countryside at her grandmother Rosita Missoni’s home, photographing her in the environment she knows best. A few days later, just as she was settling into her new apartment in Milan, we spoke to her about officially designing for the first time and how that fits into the context of her family experience.
How long had you been thinking of going into design? Was it an inevitable decision or something that took you by surprise?
For me it’s very hard to separate fashion from the rest of my life – it’s been a part of my life since I was born. I grew up in the countryside, and the only thing I had there was our clothing factory: clothing, flea markets, pieces of fabric, models, people sketching and designing – that’s all I saw. It’s been my life, my mother’s life, my father’s life in different ways – he produces shows. For me, my family, fashion, Missoni as a brand and the place where I grew up in the countryside were all one thing. It’s difficult to understand who you are and identify yourself as a person if you grow up part of such a big clan. It was too much in my life and so I needed to get away. And then you get more comfortable with yourself; you learn that you don’t need to prove yourself, and that you’re able to do something by yourself. I came back to Europe and started going to the office, and since I was there, working naturally evolved.
Who or what are you thinking about when you’re designing?
I was thinking, “Why would someone come to us?” We’re not accessories people so we’re not going to sell a simple black bag yet. I have to give something that is from Missoni, that someone else wouldn’t give them; I have to find a way to make it special to us. So when I design, that’s one of the things I keep in mind: our heritage, what makes us different and brings the customer back.
What was your starting point for the A/W10 accessories?
There was a lot of texturing, a lot of layering in the A/W10 collection with thick knits, handmade knits, but also metal in the details, which took away some of the earthiness. I translated that into the accessories using shiny silver and other metal. I looked into my personal archive, which contains a lot of things bought by my grandmother over the years. I was very lucky when I was young – people like Anna Piaggi would give me clothes, so I’ve collected a lot of amazing things.
In one of the pictures from the shoot you’re wearing a metal headpiece from the collection?
It’s one of my favourite things that I made. It’s based on a fluoro-pink, plastic headpiece with crystals on it that Anna Piaggi gave me when I was young.
Are you about to start working on the next collection or can you take some time off over the summer?
For the next collection, I think we’re going to do something different: no more metal, but start using resin again. I’ll be in Milan for a couple of weeks to devote to it and then I’m going to spend the summer in Europe. It’s amazing to be back in Italy. I like travelling, but when I’m not here I miss Milan. I hadn’t been in Milan for more than three days at a time all year until last week.
Do you imagine you’ll be designing the womenswear collection in the future?
I thought that accessories were a good place to start because we’re one of a few companies that still live off the clothes, so if I did well I could do really well, but if I didn’t, it wouldn’t be as bad as if I didn’t do well in clothing. I’m also in charge of the beachwear, which is one part of the clothing line. We’re very strong in beachwear, so it’s easier to sell. You don’t have to think as much as for the accessories. But the challenge is to make it new, because when something sells really well they keep asking you to do the same thing again and again: the same shape of bathing suit, the same kaftan. As a designer you want to evolve and to propose new things.
See Margherita’s Most Loved products on AnOther Loves.