Saying Misha Nonoo is the brains behind her eponymous brand, is about the best way to describe her.
Nonoo is fashion, and for her, clothing is best when it plays with feminine silhouettes and statement minimalist designs that mind modernity, while leaning on classic tailoring.
A favourite among celebrity “cool girls,” including actress Brit Marling, Lena Dunham of HBO’s Girls and socialite, Olivia Palermo, the label’s following (which also includes heavyweights the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker) is a testament to how attune its founder is with today’s fashion influencers.
For proof of her trendsetting innovations, check out the designer’s “Insta-Show,” erected for her most recent spring/summer 2016 collection. The first of its kind in terms of runway “venue,” the show was inspired by a conversation with Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and a desire to connect with the label’s global customer.
Currently New York-based, Nonoo was born in Bahrain (in the Persian Gulf, off the coast of Saudi Arabia) and raised in London from the age of 10, by an Iraqi father and English mother. While she credits both cultures for shaping her creative vision, the 30-year-old designer recalls her infatuation with fashion beginning with a visit to London’s Savile Row. “In London, I found the bespoke tailoring process of Savile Row romantic,” she shares. “Discovering coats and jackets constructed with the utmost quality, craftsmanship and precision, I unearthed my true passion for design. The idea of designing pieces that are intended to last an eternity has always left an impact… it has inspired me.”
This inspiration comes through in the structured cuts that have become a signature of the label, since it first debuted in the fall of 2011 at New York Fashion Week. With her latest collection for the spring/summer season, Nonoo demonstrates her growth as a designer and the evolution of her vision for the sophisticated urbanites her line targets. This season, as with previous season’s, the label finds its inspiration in contemporary art and culture, proclaimed in its use of graphic prints and weave of textures. Standouts include a thigh-grazing kimono-style dress that flaunts a crisp graph paper design, accented with a geometric patterned clasp belt.
Between the growing popularity of her own line (available for purchase online) and collaborations with brands such as, Swarovski (the retailer lent sparkle to the designer’s Spring 2015 collaboration with artist Dustin Yellin, as part of the long-running Swarovski Collective) and Aldo (for which she launched an Aldo Rise line of footwear and handbags, in the fall of last year), Misha Nonoo is fast becoming a designer staple among stylish millennials.
Below, we chat with Nonoo about her swelling success and what this fashion innovator, plans on tackling next.
When did you know you were going to be a fashion designer?
I decided I wanted to be a fashion designer at the age of 11. My parents, aware of my desire to establish a fashion label, strongly advised me to attend business school before launching my own collection.
Smart parents! What inspires you as a designer?
Pioneering ambitious women and artists.
You’ve accumulated some impressive accolades during your young career, including a spot on Forbes’ “30 Under 30” in the “Art & Style” category, last year. Do you think this kind of exposure is helpful for young designers, like yourself?
Absolutely. It has exposed me to new relationships outside of the fashion realm, which led me to create the fashion industry’s first “Insta-Show.”
What is something that you’d like to do that you haven’t done yet with your career in design?
I would love to design swimwear and undergarments.
We’d also love that! As a New York-based designer, what do you find different about the local fashion industry in comparison to other cities?
There is real camaraderie and support in NYC for young designers. I am so thankful to the CFDA. Being a part of the CFDA Incubator, I have been paired with incredible mentors, who meet with me every other week, to provide advice and support. I owe all of my accomplishments to this program.
Back when you first started, why did you choose New York to debut your label?
I’ve always been drawn by New York’s entrepreneurial spirit. I knew I wanted to start my business in New York, [so] to be in close proximity to my production facilities.
When discussing modern women’s fashion, and how we incorporate it into our daily lives, what stands out to you as important—as key?
For me, the subtle distinguishable details that make all the difference.
Outside of the fashion industry, what inspires you?
Contemporary art is a consistent source of inspiration for each collection. When I am not designing, I spend my time visiting artist studios, galleries and fairs around the globe. Some of my past collections have been inspired by artists such as, Donald Judd, Dustin Yellin, Gerhard Richter and Robert Motherwell. Contemporary art inspires me to take risks in my design process.