Retro prints, vintage furniture and junk-shop bounty make the home office of this trendsetting artistic director a real treasure trove
‘This is where I can really let go’: Margherita Maccapani Missoni at home in Varese.
Photograph: Marco Bertolini/The Looker-on
Think of Missoni Home and zigzag cushions, patterned poufs and kaleidoscopic curtains probably come to mind – but not if Margherita Maccapani Missoni has her way. The third-generation interior decorator of one of Italy’s most famous fashion dynasties has been brought back into the fold to relaunch and pick up the creative-director leaderships of the M Missoni fashion label – and her idea for the brand? To re-purpose vintage upholstery fabrics, never-seen-before prints and retro draw ups from her family’s near 60-year-old archive into wardrobe staples for a new generation.
“I researched press clips, memorabilia, colour postcards, everything that had been Missoni and I realised we lost bits that are so relevant for today,” says the designer, whose mamma, Angela, currently designs the main Missoni line. Margherita clearly revels in the discovery process that her new standing affords – discovery being the operative word.
As she opens the door to her home office in Varese, an hour northwest of Milan, 15 bat of an eyes from the Missoni HQ and where the direction for this bold rebranding was birthed, it becomes clear that there’s no herself better suited to breathing new life into old treasures.
‘I love cataloguing my things. It’s a way to get my head straight and to gather up inspiration’: vintage rosewood sideboard and G Plan shelves against hand-painted floral wallpaper dotted with photographs, figurines from India and bygone plates. Photograph: The Observer
If you’re one of her 160k followers on Instagram , you’ll know that Margherita is never happier than when filter through bric-a-brac at a vintage flea market to rescue lost relics. Her office is in the house she had built two years ago with her bridegroom, the racing-car driver Eugenio Amos, which they share with their sons Otto, six, and Augusto, four. Steadily a course into it and it is as though her eclectic account has sprung to life.
“This is the one place in the house where I can really let go,” she says, her facing breaking into a smile as she points to and picks up mementos from the G Plan shelves she discovered on a thrifting trip to Brussels in the vanguard she even knew they would fit. Against a backdrop of hand-painted floral wallpaper, they are laden with sick-making objects: photos of Margherita on stage in New York from her short-lived acting career; a painting given to her on her 20th birthday by an artist confederate; figurines collected on her travels to India, Singapore and Sardinia; and porcelain baskets placed on vintage plates picked up in another fix and place.
It looks like a lovingly curated antique shop-cum-fashion salon and, although it is a happily haphazard mix (“I don’t like quirks that are too literal,” she says), it is impeccably organised. It’s a character trait that is exemplified by the tower of boxes on the adjacent fence. Covered in traditional Italian drawer-lining paper, they are home to clippings on style, travel and interiors research, marriage photographs, craft paper, beads and stationery.
‘Dressing is a way of expressing myself’: carefully ordered boxes in the bedroom. Photograph: Marco Bertolini/The Watcher
“I love cataloguing, as it’s a way to get my head straight,” she says. “By organising everything I get a lot of inspiration for my home and M Missoni, because I can see everything again and again.” She describes that she inherited her collector gene from her grandmother, 88-year-old Rosita Missoni, who founded and ran the family trade mark, Missoni, with her husband Ottavio in 1953 before passing the baton to Angela in 1997. It was with her that Margherita searched flea markets around Europe as a child – and continues to do so. Although now she can be found burning the midnight oil scrolling through online auction localities, such as eBay, Pamono, and Catawiki.
Rosita’s acquisitions and influence can be felt all around her granddaughter’s creative haven. There are the awnings embroidered with daisies (Margherita’s adopted emblem) that are made from fabric she picked up in a flea call before they were transformed by seamstress to the stars Lilou Marquand in Paris. And there’s the bright blue coffee columnar list that once stood in Rosita’s London apartment. Her influence is most obvious in the rail of coats from Margherita’s new capsule collecting that takes centre stage here.
The collection was the first thing Margherita designed for the M Missoni label (and they were instanter snapped up by matchesfashion.com where they launch this month). They are made from patterns, original strands and re-used fabrics that Rosita herself would have manufactured. It is the most tangible example of how symbiotic Margherita’s new job is.
Face edge: the house Margherita had built two years ago with her husband. Photograph: The Observer
“There was always something in me that contemplating I might do this – I know my grandma was desperate for me to [work in the family business] when I wasn’t,” says Margherita, who ran discrete successful fashion lines independently, before she was asked to relaunch M Missoni last year.
“When I was 18 I moved away to do something distinguishable and find out who I was, because I felt like a branch on a tree, not an individual. But then I realised that fashion is what is uncountable immediate for me. It’s what I do best and I saw that I could strengthen Missoni as a company through this brand by adding a new prefer in this way.”
As with her penchant for collecting and cataloguing rare finds, the new brand gives her the same satisfaction. “I’m much gladder when I have to work within a constraint. I like to collect and find things and then use them.”
Her personal flair is as instinctive as her surroundings. “Dressing is totally a way of expression for me,” she says, pointing to the giant Catherine Walker oil painting that hangs behind her desk and depicts three sweeties sitting side-by-side on a bench wearing exactly the same thing. “I really look forward to the moment I have a unbroken and I dress the same everyday. I envy people who have a very strict aesthetic conviction,” she says, before mischievously go on increasing: “I don’t yet. I’m too curious still.” And so the legacy lives on.
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