Jewelry designer Mignonne Gavigan
Mignonne Gavigan's wing-like Madeline earrings
The Layne necklace
Chances are, you’ve seen Mignonne Gavigan’s distinctive, statement-making designs, like the winged Madeline earrings or the outfit-completing scarf necklace — worn by Jessica Biel, Selma Blair, and your coolest friend — but if you haven’t had a chance to meet the darling designer behind the brand, you’re in for a treat. The fresh-faced North Carolina native will be in Dallas showcasing her newest pieces at Miron Crosby in Highland Park Village this Thursday, September 20, from 4 to 7 p.m.
With her southern charm and imitable style, it’s no surprise that Gavigan counts the owners — sisters Sarah Means and Lizzie Duplantis — as dear friends. Read on to see why we’d like to be best friends too.
Tell us about your relationship with the darling Miron Crosby girls!
I absolutely adore Lizzie and Sarah! I first met Sarah a few years back while working as the senior footwear designer at Loeffler Randall. Being some of the only southerners in the office, we formed a fast friendship. We had many dates finding the best southern food in NYC! Lizzie also lived in NYC at this point, so she would join as well. When the girls floated the idea of Miron Crosby by me, I was so pumped for them!
They were known for wearing awesome cowboy boots throughout NYC no matter the occasion, and making them look so cool. I knew they would flourish because in my experience as a footwear designer, I totally saw the need for an elevated female-first cowboy boot brand.
When the girls were preparing to open their shop in Highland Park Village and wanted to stock Mignonne Gavigan jewelry, I was excited to have our collections sit side by side.
Also, Lizzie and I happen to share great taste in names – we both have young sons named Fields!
We love the Maggie boot they named after you. Did you work with them on the design?
Yes! I was obsessed with their Sita boot and suggested they shorten it. Next thing I knew, they were debuting the boot in my name. I was so floored and honored! The second iteration came a half year later after I suggested debuting it in a metallic gunmetal silver.
You tell such a great story about how your first scarf necklace was born when you were working on a gown and picked up a spare piece of fabric off your floor. Are moments like that usually when inspiration finds you?
They definitely can be! Every day is different, but I tend to find inspiration in the cities I travel to, as well as on a daily basis in New York. No matter where I am, I tend to find inspiration everywhere. There’s so much to see in any city – interesting people, buildings, architecture, cracks in the concrete that form unique shapes, signs that have been ripped off walls and create beautiful textures…
Earlier this year I stumbled upon a hidden Ukrainian store in New York. It had beautiful fabrics, traditional folk costumes and ancient artifacts. It ended up having a major influence on my new Fall / Winter 2018 collection, which can be seen through the use of rich jewel tones, floral embroidery, and the Matryoskha earrings and necklaces, which mimic traditional nesting dolls. I will have a few of these pieces in Dallas at the Miron Crosby trunk show!
What is the typical journey your pieces go on to get from an idea to reality?
I gather ideas from inspiration I see all around me almost all the time. We typically design into the notion of a girl going to a place. This season, it was Eastern Europe. We really wanted to celebrate heritage, while modernizing native techniques, which was really amazing to see come to life through embroidery and bullion detailing. In terms of actually creating, I feel like I still am always still traditionally sketching. I like to start with that process first before we then digitize and layer more details for the spec.
The craftsmanship and beading on your jewelry is amazing. Tell us about where and how most of them are made.
We work with incredible factories in India where master artisans with years of experience create each Mignonne Gavigan piece by hand. These are the same factories used by European designers like Prada and Miu Miu. Each artisan has their own specialty technique, so the pieces are worked on by multiple artisans before coming to life.
What’s on your inspiration board right now?
- Pieces by Sasha Ignatiadou, a Russian illustrator I found while researching Eastern Europe. I love her bright, unique use of color and how everything she draws is made up of a shape. Her work became a big inspiration for us this fall.
- Lithuanian paper art
- Faberge eggs
- My mother’s vintage scarab bracelet
- Matryoshka dolls
When did you know you wanted to work in fashion? Have you always been in to jewelry?
Growing up, I was always making things. I have three brothers and if I wasn’t asked to round out a whiffle ball or football team, I was in the basement creating something. It was usually drawing or painting or building anything out of paper. I remember draping my towel around myself in new ways as if it was a roll of fabric and I was creating a new dress. I also remember stealing a pair of my dad’s old Levi’s and cutting them up and gluing them back together to fit me. I was obsessed with the wash and the fit at the ankle. It seems fitting that I ended up in fashion.
While I was at Parsons Paris and New York, I realized I didn’t want to work in fast fashion, instead I wanted to create works of arts — things to be proud of that stood the test of time. In design school, they press upon you that if you want to have your own line, you have to set yourself apart. The scarf necklace and the idea to bring couture details to everyday jewelry was just that — a unique idea.
Most treasured pieces of jewelry?
The very first Le Charlot scarf necklace I ever made! It was named after the iconic street in Paris and serves as a really special memory from when I studied in Paris. The necklace remains a part of our classics collection that we’ve designed into almost every season. The original now hangs framed in my kitchen as a daily reminder of how we first started Mignonne Gavigan and the journey the brand has been on since then.
You are an inspiration to so many women as both a mother and a successful business owner. What is your key to doing it all?
Thank you! It definitely is not always easy, though I am so lucky to have great support around me. First off, we have the most wonderful childcare. I know that my son, Fields, is always in good hands with our nanny, so I do not need to worry about him while I am working. He often comes to the office on Fridays (Fields Friday we call it!), which always picks me up. It encourages me to focus the rest of the day so I can get home to him in the evening. I want to be a strong, empowered woman for Fields to look up to – women really can do it all!
I also have a fantastic team around me at Mignonne Gavigan. As we’ve grown the brand, I’ve been able to really focus on designing while my business partner, Layne, manages business aspects.
What are you wearing to your dream black tie event?
ANYTHING Dries Van Noten! I’m wearing one of their skirts for my best friend’s upcoming wedding that has ostrich feathers and a bird on it–cannot wait! It’s so beautiful I may have to frame it for our showroom afterwards!
How would you describe your day-to-day style?
My style has always been about self-expression and certainly function has come into play since becoming a mom and business owner. I usually wear whatever feels right for my mood that morning (and more is always more in my book). I’m a sucker for a great pair of jeans, cool sneaks, comfortable fitted tee and embellished, oversize denim jacket. I am also known to dress up a graphic tee with a beaded scarf necklace!
In the office, I like for everyone to come to work looking presentable and put-together. We aren’t just representing ourselves, but the brand. You never know who you’ll run into so it’s important to dress the way you want to be viewed and perceived.
I strongly dislike athleisure – no one needs to show up at the office wearing yoga pants. Unless it’s inventory day.
You love to travel and incorporate lots of what you see in your designs. What is the next trip you have planned? Where did you go last?
I’m traveling a lot this fall for trunk shows, which is a really unique opportunity to get to know the people who are wearing Mignonne Gavigan. Many of our retailers are smaller businesses that took a chance on Mignonne Gavigan and I feel so honored and fortunate to have these professional relationships that have developed into personal friendships. I’m also really looking forward to a friend’s 40th birthday in St. Barths where I’ll get a chance to relax a bit after a hectic fall!
My last big inspiration trip was to India. We went to Mumbai, Jaipur, and Delhi. In addition to visiting with the talented master artisans at our factories, we explored markets, parks, palaces and historical landmarks in each city. India was absolutely breathtaking and so rich in terms of color, design and life. I found inspiration in everything from security guard uniforms to park benches!
Your dog brooches are everything. Do you have a family pet?
Yes, our cat, Franklin! We have a brooch of him for any cat lovers out there, too. The pet brooches are something out-of-the-box I decided to do as I’ve always loved expressing myself through brooches. Adding a few to bags, scarves or jackets can instantly transform an outfit. Our artisans are able to achieve such accuracy through their beadwork to make the brooches so lifelike – it’s incredible. Animals have always inspired me, so you will see a variety of birds, reptiles, fish and mammals throughout our collections.
Other hobbies people might not know about?
Traveling, skiing, drawing, painting, reading
Favorite book you read over the summer?
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, which fits in perfectly for our Eastern European fall influence.
Favorite spots to visit while in Dallas?
Miron Crosby, of course! I love stopping in to see their newest designs and vintage pieces by Shiprock Santa Fe. I also always try to visit the original Neiman Marcus store. There is so much rich history there – the building is absolutely beautiful. Right after, I usually pop by the Joule Hotel and Forty Five Ten – I love ending the day with a glass of Ruinart Champagne on Forty Five Ten’s rooftop! I always like to see what exhibits are at the Nasher Sculpture Museum and Dallas Contemporary, too. And I eat all the Mexican I can get my hands on!
Mignonne Gavigan trunk show at Miron Crosby, Thursday, September 20 from 4 to 7 p.m. Miron Crosby Studio — 25 Highland Park Village, Suite 201 (above Rag & Bone)