Love fashion? Want to know more about the designers who create it? Check out the first of a new monthly series spotlighting those creative influencers. We kick off with Bahrain-born talent Misha Nonoo who’s been in the news recently for all the right reasons.
The story so far
Bahrain born, Misha Nonoo lived in the Kingdom with her family until the age of 10, when they moved to London. She went to university there until the age of 19, then spent two years in Paris finishing her studies.
She moved to New York and worked for a small tailoring firm in the garment district, learning the trade as the assistant to the head designer.
Of her inspiration she says: “I think I’m a kind of magpie; I think that sensibility of being this collector for things that are shiny and interesting makes its way into my work. My designs are often a meld of the old and new, which is very much my personality.”
An American-based fashion designer, Misha is best known for her eponymous line of classic women’s clothing and an innovative approach to marketing which has seen her take the fashion world by storm using social media instead of the more traditional runway shows.
She’s just launched a revolutionary on-demand manufacturing process which is a low-waste, sustainability-minded business model of which she says: “It took me eight solid months of quality testing, logistical training and software improvement to our backend in order to really say with confidence that I was going to be able to fulfil an order from our website in two days; it was important to me that the timeline was short.”
Misha’s focus on being environmentally conscious led to the debut of her Easy 8 collection: a line of eight seasonless, elegant basics that can be combined to create 22 versatile looks. She told Forbes: “The idea of ‘Easy 8’ came from this notion that you have your work life and your social life – that is not the way our life is compartmentalised anymore. You go to work and then out to dinner or drinks with your friends, and I wanted to address the fact that women can have looks that are appropriate for work but are also flexible and designed to take them out afterwards or during the day. Often your wardrobe has too many options, so it’s about having a chic go-to look that’s not overwhelming. It’s the hero pieces that you go back to time and time again.”
She added that she believes seasonality in clothing is no longer relevant – with heating in the winter and cooling in the summer, women simply wear what they want, when they want – and she hopes the changes she’s made will filter into the rest of the fashion industry, giving her peers pause for thought on both the manufacturing process and better use of budget, such as investing in women’s labour skills and artisanal craftsmanship.
Asked who the Nonoo woman is, she told Harper’s Bazaar: “She’s someone that appreciates quality and tailoring, but she’s also a bit of a maverick and likes to change up the way that she dresses – she travels, she’s an international character.”
Not only did royal girlfriend Meghan Markle wear Nonoo’s much-loved Husband Shirt for her first official public outing with the UK’s Prince Harry, the designer, who is firm friends with the Suits actress is also credited with introducing the pair in 2016 (she was married to Harry’s pal Alexander Gilkes but the pair split in 2016). Nonoo told Hello magazine: “Her greatest strength is her compassion for others. Much of the work she does is unseen by the public.”
Up and coming
In 2015, aged 28, she was listed in the Forbes 30 under 30 list of “entrepreneurs, innovators and game changers” with the citation: “Bahrain-born with an Iraqi father and a British mother, Nonoo, a New York City transplant, makes soft, feminine women’s ready-to-wear clothes.”
She was a finalist in the prestigious 2013 Vogue/CFDA Fashion Fund awards. In 2015, Nonoo pioneered the ‘insta-show’ becoming the first fashion designer to debut a runway collection via Instagram. For this she received the Fashion Futures Award for Best Beyond the Runway Experience. She again used social media to reimagine the runway when she showed her autumn 2016 collection exclusively on Snapchat. In September 2017 she quit mass production and introduced on-demand manufacturing, meaning customers can request an item from her collection which is then made to order within two days.
According to ConfashionsfromKuwait.com she is related to Houda Nonoo, the first Jewish ambassador of any Middle Eastern Arab country and the first female Bahraini ambassador to the United States.