Missoni for Holt Renfrew: We meet Margherita Missoni in New York to discuss her charitable collaboration

Missoni for Holt Renfrew
Missoni for Holt Renfrew

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Margherita Missoni could teach lessons in cool. The eldest grandchild (and heiress) of the family behind Italian luxury house Missoni clashes prints like a pro, pulls off turbans with panache and finds the sexy in floor-grazing skirts. When she arrives at the luxe event space at the Bowery Hotel on New York’s Lower East Side, she is relaxed, polite and somewhat quiet, though her presence seems to fill the large room. Dressed in a white T-shirt, pastel Missoni knit trousers, heeled boots and a quirky mix of jewellery—gold drop earrings in the shape of fish (she’s a Pisces), a Louis Vuitton collar necklace and several bracelets, ranging from antique diamonds to traditional Indian beads—the 29-year-old accessories designer admits she has only one prized possession: “My wedding ring.”

Two weeks before our interview for her Holt Renfrew collaboration, Missoni married 27-year-old Italian race-car driver Eugenio Amos in Brunello, Italy. Her dress, a heavenly cloud of organza, embroidery and floral appliqués, was made by “the women who saw me growing up,” she tweeted after the media incorrectly ID’d it as Missoni. Her friend Giambattista Valli provided “couture counselling.” In true cool-girl style, she swapped her tiara and white gown for a gypsy-inspired daisy chain and a blush-coloured version of her wedding dress for the countryside reception. In lieu of gifts, she asked guests to make a donation to OrphanAid Africa, a non-profit organization that helps children and their families through education, health care, family support and basic infrastructure programs. The newly minted Mr. and Mrs. generated over $80,000 in donations.

Founded in 2002 by Lisa Lovatt-Smith, an author and former editor at Vogue, the organization’s goal is to strengthen communities in Ghana so families can take care of their own children. “Eighty per cent of the kids that live in orphanages there have families that could sustain them, if they had the means,” says Missoni. She is the president of the Italian chapter and began volunteering in Ghana when she was 20 years old. “[Back then] OrphanAid had only existed for a couple of years. It’s quite big now and it has become very respected,” she says.

In 2011, she launched M Missoni for OrphanAid Africa, an affordable capsule collection of snappy zigzag-print pieces ranging from trench coats to tote bags. This November, she’s partnering with Holt Renfrew on a limited-edition pair of M Missoni stuffed toys for the holidays; a portion of the proceeds will go to the charity. Surveying the plush duo—an elephant and a bear ($50 each, holtrenfrew.com)—she scoops up the latter from the antique coffee table in front of us and playfully gives him a squeeze. When she was a little girl, a white bear from New York’s FAO Schwarz spent many days, and nights, wrapped in her arms. Nowadays, this jet-setter is more attached to her luggage. “Since I have a lot of stuff and I travel a lot, my luggage always changes,” she says. “I never bring the same things within a season—it’s my rule.”

At the end of our interview, we take a snapshot together, which I tweet on my way back to the airport. Later that evening, she retweets the photo to her 30,359 followers. Pretty cool.

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