New Designers: Misha Nonoo

Interview by Marylou Luther. Luther is the creative director of Fashion Group International.

Photo Credit: Christopher Sturman

Misha Nonoo, seated, with muse/lingerie designer Marissa Montgomery.
  • The jacket is constructed to fit the same, closed or open.
  • Flirty touch: The hem's shorter in front.

Chain-fringe wool bouclé jacket, $695, strapless wool dress, $595, Nonoo. Viola Lovely, Wenham, MA, 978-468-1775. Snake-print leather "Quinn" pumps, $195,

HER BACKGROUND: Nonoo grew up between Bahrain and London, then worked for a Paris denim label in 2006. After moving to New York in 2008, she launched her first collection last year.

WHY WE LOVE HER: The cool, sexy tailoring and easy-to-wear pieces have a lady-with-an-edge vibe.

MLL: Initially you wanted to specialize in jackets and coats, but now you have a more rounded-out collection. What made you change your mind?

MN: I think from a business standpoint it made sense to have a more complete collection. But philosophy is that it's better to be very good at something specific than to be generally good at multiple things. I think it's important to maintain the integrity of tailoring. There was a real niche in the market when I started that I felt needed to be filled, and that’s become my trademark. People come to me now for my jackets because that's my specialty.

MLL: It's great to have a trademark. And that tailoring is what you’re known for.

MN: Still, when I'm designing a new collection I always start with the jackets. A well-cut jacket makes your shoulders look slimmer and just smartens up your entire look. I've worn jackets my entire life, whether they're in or out of fashion. When I lived in Paris, I would always look at the women and think, what is it about them? And it was their fantastic jackets. Your jacket can be your ultimate accessory.

MLL: Let's talk about the fall collection. How did you put it all together?

MN: I still begin with the jackets. Right now, I think suiting is a big thing so I created the underpinnings, and three different pair of pants in different fabrics—is a high-waist flare with a cuff, a high waist cropped pant that you might wear with flats. The other pant is a slim leg trouser with lace detail down the side.

After that I added dresses in lace so that it all went together. Beautiful fabrics are really important to me. I'm in my mid-twenties, but I'm from the school of thought that I want to be able to wear something for the next 5 to 10 years. I'm not throwing it away, I'm not giving it away. So that's my emphasis when I'm designing.

MLL: What was your inspiration for the collection? 

MN: English aristocrats and the wonderful old homes they roam around in. I'm from England, so I thought, what would I want to wear if I was home in the country or if I was in the city? 

MLL: Where did your interest in fashion start?

MN: Growing up in London and Paris, I kind of drank everything in. I learned what clothes that gave me that slender, elegant look that I loved and it always had to do with a great jacket and everything else underneath it being nicely streamlined. I was completely fashion obsessed when I was young.

MLL: To be a successful designer you have to adore what you're doing. You don't care if you're working morning, noon and night. You've got that passion and you're only 25!

MN: I do love what I do. And I know that I'm extremely fortunate. I can't imagine doing anything else. 



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