bSMART Guide

Fashion designer Misha Nonoo is changing the way sophisticated urbanites dress for work with her Ready to Wear contemporary collections.  Having won the 2012 Fashion Group International Rising Star award, as well as being a Top 10 finalist for the 2013 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Prize, Misha’s star is continuing to rise collaborating with contemporary artists and launching Misha Nonoo x Aldo Rise - an affordable footwear and handbag collection.  Listed in Crain’s 40 under Forty and part of the CFD {Fashion Incubator} program, Misha is providing sophisticated and elegant clothing for the working woman.  Find out her inspiration behind Misha Nonoo Spring and Fall 2015 collections, how to dress smart from work to weekend, and why you should say #DressMeMisha.

Shop Misha Nonoo's Spring 2015 Collection here! 


I wanted a collection my friends and I would shop.



How do you hope to empower women from wearing Misha Nonoo?

I hope to empower women through the fashion I create changing the way women dress for work.  Traditionally, women feel the need to dress like their male mentors in business suits.  You don't have to dress like the men to be appropriate.  You can be appropriate in lots of different ways and still have individuality and relevance. 

The Misha Nonoo woman is somebody who is going somewhere every day.  She might be in her early twenties or in her forties established in her career, but the commonality between everyone (whether they're working in finance, law, or a creative industry) is that they are ambitious and driven. 


Watch Misha's bSMART interview here!

A monochromatic look can be a smart and chic way to dress for work.


Can you share a few Misha Nonoo must-have pieces for Spring 2015?

Some of my favorite pieces for Spring 2015, especially for the professional woman, are my wide leg white trousers that can be worn with a knit sweater or a blouse.  I also really love our white cotton shirt dresses (shirting is a common theme we continue throughout the collection) and I love our rose gold metallic pieces.  You can take them apart and wear them with something more conservative or you can wear the dress with flat shoes.  

I collaborated with Aldo this season, Misha Nonoo x Aldo Rise, for you to wear a pair of rose gold shoes to match the dress.  A monochromatic look can be a very smart and chic way to dress for work.  The t-shirt I'm wearing is also a must-have of mine.  It's a limited edition piece I created with the artist Dustin Yellin and we only created 500 of these t-shirts, so get one now before they're gone!


Candace Wide Leg Trousers / Lila Metallic Shift Dress 



Misha Nonoo x Dustin Yellin Tee / Chambray Cotton Shirt Dress

What was your inspiration for your Fall 2015 collection?

Contemporary art is my ultimate source of inspiration.  I admire artists' collective combination of boundless freedom and pioneering soul, which relates to the type of women I design for.  Each season I draw inspiration from a contemporary artist, art show I've seen, or a technique used in the work and try to lift the lid on contemporary artwork for my customer. 

The starting point for Fall 2015 was a show I saw in London of Tracey Emin’s work called The Last Great Adventure is You.  She'd gone through life thinking, 'the last great adventure was you' would be about somebody else she would meet, but then she realized that the last great adventure was herself.  That realization felt so strong and confident and was such a beautiful and poetic way of saying something I wanted to share with my woman. 


I admire artists' collective combination of boundless freedom and pioneering soul.


What influenced you to create the collaboration Misha Nonoo x Aldo Rise?

Working with Aldo was an opportunity to create a more affordable product, which was an idea I loved.  My woman is somebody who is just coming out of school, as well as someone who is more mature in her professional life.  The idea that this collaboration could be for both of these women really appealed to me.  

Our Spring / Summer 2015 collection focused on wraps and ties and so we included that feature on the shoes.  The tie is removable from the flat, so you can also wear it as a slingback.  The shoes have the versatility and multi-functionality present in a lot of our clothing.  We created various colors including a rose gold metallic, which was really fun and people love it.  One of my other favorites is the strappy white stiletto heel, which is a great summer staple. 


Aeaniel Flat / Birchell Sandal

The shoes have the versatility and multi-functionality present in our clothing.


What makes a successful Ready to Wear line?

What makes a collection successful is a perfect balance of art and commerce, thinking about what your customer wants and needs and balancing that with design.  My starting point with this collection was thinking that I’m that everyday woman who is going somewhere, is very ambitious professionally, and wants to have a family, career, and to travel.  For that woman to be satisfied, she has to have something that assures her and lives with her through that life.  To me this meant a softly tailored aesthetic - something that felt feminine in a nuanced and powerful way. 

More than anything, it's about the quality of the fabrics and execution in the production of the collection.  The ideas have to be fresh, but when it sits on the floor it has to stand apart from everything else.


It's about the quality of the fabrics and execution in the production of the collection.


Designed Destiny


When did you know you wanted to be a fashion designer?

I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer when I was a teenager in London.  There were all of these amazing designer clothes I loved such as Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, but there wasn't anything that spoke to my aesthetic specifically.  

While I indulge in the fantasy of fashion, I think there is a flip side to that.  As I got older and my business plan started to take shape, it became very important to me to have an affordable price point because I wanted myself and my friends to be able to go out and shop it.

I grew very respectful of the traditional element where I was brought up.


How did your background prepare you to run your own brand?

I'm very fortunate to have an international background.  I grew up in the Middle East and spent weekends going to the souks in Bahrain, which formed in me this incredible appreciation of color and texture and allowed me to see women in the world who dress very differently.  I grew very respectful of the traditional element where I was brought up.  Then I moved to London when Christopher Kane was just starting out and Alexander McQueen was at the height of his fame.  It was fascinating to see the creativity that came from London.  I also lived in Paris for a time and that really honed the idea of true elegance and luxury.

Business school prepared me for what it means to run your own business.  Of course you would like to be doing the creative fun stuff all day, but in fact the majority of your day is spent managing aspects and areas of the business you never thought you would manage.  You have to be prepared for that.  When I finished business school, I apprenticed with a small designer in the Garment District, which was fascinating because they still produced about 90% of their collection domestically and I learned about domestic production, sourcing fabrics, and different vendors.  That experience gave me a 360-degree perspective, but nothing ever prepares you for having your own business like actually doing it.  You have to just roll with the punches and know that an overnight success might seem like it happened overnight, but in fact it took many years of hard work. 


Unless you're involved at a granular level - the top level doesn't work.


What have you learned from being part of the CFDA Fashion Incubator program?

I'm very fortunate to have been recognized by the fashion industry.  I was Fashion Group International's Rising Star in 2012.  In 2013, I was one of the top 10 finalists for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award and in 2014, I moved into the CFDA {Fashion Incubator} program in the Garment District.  Through the incubator, I have incredible mentors helping me put together my five-year business plan for the collection.  That really is quite a task, so to have the appropriate mentors to tell you, 'We would suggest you do this' or 'We recommend you do that' or just for you to say, ‘This is the end goal, but I don't know how to get there' and be honest about how hard it is - is really helpful.  It's such support because at times being a business owner means you could feel very alone.  

Other people can share things and it's not so scary for them, but you always have to 'take it on the chin' and process it by yourself.  You can’t tell the people who work with you 'I'm freaking out and I'm really scared' because you can't scare them.  You feel as though you always have to be positive, forthright, and the leader putting on the big smile, when at times you don't always feel that way.  Knowing how to balance this is important.    

Who are the women leaders who have influenced you the most?

The female leaders I've been influenced by are manifold, but to name a few, I'm very inspired by Hillary Clinton.  She sparked, unknowingly, this whole debate regarding women leaders.  And it's not just about gender equality, but actually it's a human rights issue.  We don’t think about that in first world places like England and America.  Women make $0.77 for every $1.00 a man earns, but I don't think that’s the issue - I think it's so much bigger than that including issues purely to do with women's bodies.

Sheryl Sandberg has been another woman leader that has influenced me.  I read Lean In and have put some of the advice in the book to good use.  I would definitely recommend any woman who has her own business to read it.  Even if you don't have your own business you should read it - it's a great book.  More locally, Kyle Andrew is a female mentor of mine.  She was the Brand Director at Kate Spade Saturday and has had a long and extensive career.  She is someone I look up to a great deal and gives great advice.  

Another woman I look up to is Anna Wintour.  She is obviously at the top of the fashion industry, but I respect how she is so involved on a very detailed level.  Running a business, you think you should do mostly top level work, but unless you're involved at a granular level - the top level doesn't work.  

It's not just about gender equality, it’s actually a human rights issue.


How can designers and non-designers be smart with a career in fashion?

What I would tell myself at twenty-one is to enjoy the ride you take through your career and your twenties.  It's a great time to experiment and to see what you want to do.  But, it's also important to have an end goal in sight and to not be impatient.  You must be patient because everything takes longer than you think it will - especially if you're an entrepreneur. 


An overnight success might seem like it happened overnight, but it took years of hard work.


Spotlight on Misha Nonoo

Neighborhood: West Village

Occupation: Creative Director

Women I Admire: Sheryl Sandberg, Maureen Chiquet, Amal Alamuddin

Dream Mentor: Diana Vreeland, Marion Goodman

Look of the Season: Jumpsuits

Go-to Outfit: A knit and a skirt 

Must-have Shoes: Aldo Rise x Misha Nonoo

Favorite Nail Polish: Sally Hansen, Lady T 

Can't Live Without Product: Aquaphor 

Signature Scent: Jo Malone Lime Basil & Mandarin

Beauty Essential: Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Eyeline

Cocktail of Choice: White Wine Spritzer

Travel Destination: Bhuthan

Favorite Quote: 'We Were Together, I forget the rest.' - Walt Whitman

De-Stress Technique: Class Pass

Latest Gadget: Alexa, Amazon

On My Playlist: Para One

Favorite App: One Kings Lane and Instagram

University: European Business School, London and ESCE (Ecole Superiere du Commerce Exterieur) in Paris





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