Margherita Missoni is heiress to a fashion empire. But, the 25-year-old actress and activist has more important things on her mind. In addition to being brand ambassador (attending fashion shows and stylish soirées wearing kaleidoscopic Missoni dresses) and the face of Missoni Profumi, last year she designed an eco-friendly T-shirt (along with Kate Moss, Marc Jacobs, and Vivienne Westwood) for the Climate Project, and recently launched OrphanAid Africa’s Italian chapter. This season, Missoni collaborated with jewelry designer Ileana Makri on a limited-edition bracelet to benefit the cause, now up for grabs at Jeffrey New York, Colette in Paris, Matches in London, and on yoox.com.Fashion is in your blood. Is there pressure to follow in your family’s footsteps?
I’m not a designer. I’m doing some jewelry things but not in the company. I definitely have a lot of pressures but not from my family at all. Just from the rest of the world; everybody kind of expected that I was going to, and that made me sick of fashion. I mean, I’ve always loved fashion, but from a consumer point of view. I really don't want to go there. I think maybe staying away will make me miss it…How did you team up with OrphanAid Africa?
We are all sensitive to different issues and my weak spot has always been with children. Five years ago, I ran into Liza Lovett Smith, an old friend of my mother’s who I have known since I was a child. She told me about her new adventure. She had left her role as an editor at Elle
to start OrphanAid Africa. In two weeks I was in Ghana, volunteering at an orphanage for several months. Sometimes, things choose you and it was the perfect timing for me. It was a period in my life where I needed to help people. What are you working on with OrphanAid Africa?
After I returned from Ghana, I created OrphanAid Africa Italy and am their Italian president. OrphanAid Africa has grown as an organization but its structure is still small enough that I have the influence on where every penny goes. What I tried to do was make a brand of OrphanAid Africa, with a new item coming out every three to six months that is cool enough that you would want to buy it anyway. For every item, there are two versions—one which is more expensive, like the bracelet with thirty diamonds instead of one—and another, non-limited-edition version available online.What inspired the bracelet design?
Well, Ileana Makri designed it; I commissioned her. The items will always be inspired by Africa. I know that she had found this fabric, a print, that inspired the bracelet’s fabric. Then the “O” symbol stands for the “O” of OrphanAid Africa. For the second item, Pro-Keds is making a pair of sneakers in an African print, the third is going to be a real fashion designer and I’m thinking T-shirts, and I would like the fourth to be a bag… It’s not that easy—I didn't realize I would have to market a real brand!And you are still Missoni’s brand ambassador. What does that job entail?
When I turned 18 and I started going out in Milan, and it was around the same time when people started pursing Missoni as younger brand—you know, it was cool again after years of being classic and grown up. So they started this renewal of the brand and started seeing for the first time that people were not wearing Missoni on the red carpet or to parties at night. For magazines, it was a new story—the third generation thing kind of worked. So, basically it means doing photo shoots in Missoni clothes; I had to talk on Missoni’s behalf and attend events…things like that.How would you describe your personal style?
I think it's evolving. It’s definitely not too perfect, not too put together. I think that’s maybe what is appealing to New York—the new girl not matching her shoes with her bag.
SAMANTHA GILEWICZ oafrica.org