“As a child every afternoon of my life was spent playing at my mother’s office at the Missoni headquarters,” says Margherita Maccapani Missoni Amos, scion to the Italian fashion empire...
“I would play with threads and fabrics, dressing up for fun, drawing and creating and lots of daydreaming. I knew, from a very young age, that I wanted to be a designer. My mother always allowed me to make my own choices and granted me tremendous freedom. I want to pass that freedom onto my own children. They need to be free to make mistakes, to create, to come up with something original.” That principle, fundamental to Margherita’s own creative desires, is now at the heart of her feelgood childrenswear range Margherita Kids, launched exclusively at John Lewis. Mix it, match it, pile it high – she wants little girls to run wild finding their own gloriously bright look (and little boys will be able follow with their own range launching this autumn). Of course swirling, whirling kaleidoscopic colour is as natural to a Missoni as a rainbow. Perfectly pristine matchy-matchy sets? Not here.
The house was built upon its legendary zigzag and stripe designs first conceived by its founders Rosita and Ottavio, Margherita’s grandparents, who met at the London Olympic games in 1948 (he was a runner and designed the Italian team’s uniforms).
Today the eldest daughter of Angela Missoni, creative director of the label, is carving her own path filling the lives of little ones with as much colour as she enjoyed as a child. Her interiors range for US giant Pottery Barn Kids goes on sale in Australia next month and her Margherita Kids clothing is fast gathering pace. We caught up with the entrepreneur to talk about her life with her racing-driver husband Eugenio Amos and two adorable sons Otto and Augusto, in the idyllic countryside of Sumirago where she grew up.
Words: Claire Brayford | Go to www.johnlewis.com | Pictured above: Eugenio Amos, Margherita Missoni, Francesco Missoni, Rosita Missoni, Angela Missoni, and Teresa Missoni | Additional images: @mmmargherita
What do you love about designing childrenswear?
I love the fact that my collection is unpretentious and affordable to all. I’ve always been drawn to children’s clothes, but it’s only after my first son Otto was born that I developed a real understanding of childrenswear. Shopping for clothing for him was so eye-opening – I realised that most children’s garments are designed by people who actually don’t have children. It is definitely reflected in the product. The baby’s arm doesn’t go through the sleeve, the buttons are too small for the button hole, and so on. I knew then and there that I wanted to create a collection for children that would allow them a freedom of movement, but also a freedom of choice. I want children to express their creativity and individuality through choosing their own clothing – and that’s why I didn’t create any perfect “matching” outfits – here, everything is meant to go with everything and mixing and matching is encouraged.
What inspired the latest collection?
The mixing of super classic shapes and materials is definitely a recurring theme. Lots of seersucker and pinafore dresses with bold, vibrant prints and playful, whimsical elements. There’s always a lot of mixing and matching of textures and references – that’s the basis of my personal style, too.
Do you think that European or Italian mum’s dress their children differently from elsewhere in the world?
Not particularly! I think, now, with communication being so fast and information being shared so easily over social media, there’s a much greater sharing of ideas. I try to think globally when designing. I don’t mean that in a pretentious way, I mean that in the sense that I’m inspired by such a variety of influences and cultures. I guess it’s unsurprising that there’s a variety of references in the collection, taken from my travels, the people I meet, the things I see that interest me.
What is your approach to dressing your own children?
Comfort is the greatest priority. I think they appreciate that.
Photograph: Robert Fairer
“ My sister is my best friend, my mother is the one I always go to for advice, and my grandmother is my “everything goal” – the woman I aspire to become ”
When did your interest in fashion begin?
I cannot remember my life before fashion.
What is the best bit about being part of a big close family?
I grew up in the countryside of Milan, in Varese, with my grandparents, my parents, and my two younger siblings – my brother Francesco and my sister Teresa. It was so idyllic. What’s not to love? We’re very close.
What did your mother teach you?
Mostly everything I know.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Responsible, maternal and fun-seeking.
What has been one of your biggest career challenges?
For sure, starting my own business was a challenge. You have to remain enthusiastic and fearless.
What is the best advice you’ve been given about motherhood?
Go with the flow!
How do you balance your work and family life?
After the birth of my first son [Otto], I decided to take a break from the family’s business to concentrate on starting my own – as a way to set my own schedule and focus on motherhood and my growing family. That move took a lot of courage. I work from home, which certainly helps, and I eat with my sons, take them to the park in the afternoon, hop on conference calls while they nap. It’s important to find your own rhythm and to remain patient with yourself. Things do get chaotic, but you just have to breathe.
What has changed most about your life since having your boys?
Becoming a mother has truly transformed me into a much calmer and patient person. I’m also much more confident with myself, my decisions and my approach to life.
Do you dress differently now you are a mum?
For me, too, comfort is key.
“ I love the idyllic small village life in Italy; the nature, the quietude, and of course having family so close to us ”
What do you wear again and again?
A great trench coat.
Where do you like to shop?
On the internet, of course, but I adore shopping at flea markets and visiting small, local shops when I travel. When I visit London, Peter Jones in Sloane Square is a must. It is one-of-a-kind for John Lewis – I loved seeing my collection there when I visited last time.
How do you treat yourself?
A weekly massage.
What is your biggest extravagance?
A €2,000 sea salt bath.
Where do you most relax?
How do you keep fit? Do you like to eat healthily?
I meet with a personal trainer three times a week and we eat everything sourced locally. I don’t cook, but right now I’m particularly into Iranian cuisine.
And finally, what does success mean to you?
From left: Margherita Maccapani Missoni; Ottavio Missoni Jr.; Francesco Maccapani Missoni; Teresa Maccapani Missoni; Marco Missoni; Giacomo Missoni
Margherita Missoni and Eugenio Amos on their wedding day back in 2012. Photo: Matteo Ferrari
Margherita’s little list of loves:
Creme de la Mer Renewal Oil. It’s amazing for soothing dry skin.
A Blazè smoking blazer. It’s my go-to item at night.
Margherita x Yoox jersey pyjamas. They make the perfect ensemble for cold nights in.
Sirocco cookbooks – for our Middle Eastern dinners.
A Missoni men’s backpack – after having kids you realise the advantages of a hands-free bag.
The Bhutanese Guide to Happiness. I love reading a page every night before going to sleep.
Margherita Kids multi colour furry vest. This is my gift of choice for all the little girls that I know this holiday season.
Venyx Lunoor earrings. I love an elaborate hoop.