Though Mignonne Gavigan lives and works in Manhattan, the fashion designer is a southern girl at heart. Having grown up in Myers Park (not to mention she’s a Country Day and Chapel Hill alum), Gavigan’s style is inherently inspired by her upbringing in the South. The designer, who has worked for the likes of Marc Jacobs and Rachel Roy and, most recently, as a senior footwear designer for Loeffler Randall, launched her eponymous line of accessories in 2009 and has since become a favorite with celebs like Jessica Biel, Kate Mara, and Ivanka Trump. We caught up with the designer to talk about her newest collection, what inspires her, and what her favorite accessories are.
How did you first get into fashion design? I first got into fashion when I finished my political science degree from UNC at the Sorbonne in Paris. I had gone over there to fulfill my French requirements, live with a French family, and to explore Europe with a couple other UNC best friends. I remember calling my mom after I finished that last exam and asked, “What do I do now?” She said, “What do you love?” Without hesitation I said fashion. I have always loved fashion. I remember draping my towel around myself post shower in high school and trying to get the best drape for a dress. I used to cut up my dad’s worn-in jeans and re-sew them so they fit the way I wanted and had just the right washed-out look.
Why did you launch your own line of accessories? Throughout my tenure, I’ve always had it in mind to create a line of my own. I wanted to learn as much as I could from each design post so that I would be as prepared as possible to build my own line. After being exposed to the beauty of couture dresses, I wanted to take apparel details and make jewelry in a new way, I wanted to create a scarf necklace. Each necklace is handmade in India and the quality of work is evident. The intricate details, the quality craftsmanship, and the personality of each piece lent me to begin my own brand, Mignonne Gavigan New York.
How has southern style inspired your fashion sense and your collections? I am incredibly inspired by southern style. I constantly travel back and forth from New York to Charlotte and Atlanta and as a highly visual person, I am always finding patterns and prints in everything I look at: textiles, upholstery, bridges, and nature. Being outside is something you take for granted when living in the South. You don’t realize it until you move up to New York where you have to seek nature out.
What is it about accessories that you love? When my mother in law first visited New York, she commented on my wardrobe not having any prints. It’s for two reasons: one, the space I have for a closet is tiny and, two, I prefer to spend my money on accessories. I designed handbags then shoes under other designers and fell in love with the fact that you can make an entire outfit just by the pair of shoes you put on or the handbag you carry or the necklace you throw on. Plus, as a designer, you don’t have to waste money making a variety of sizes. One size fits all!
What are some of your favorite accessories? I am a lover of necklaces. There are five small chain necklaces around my neck that I wear always, mementos from years past and favorite travels.
What can people expect from your latest collection? I am compiling inspiration for my next collection (Spring/Summer 2015) and I am getting so excited! We just went on a trip to Hawaii for a wedding and the colors and natural beauty that surrounded us will surely be evident in my next collection!