As a fashion designer and a traveler, Misha Nonoo has pared it all down, opting for her own version of delicious minimalism. Of her overcrowded office, home, and closet, Nonoo says “no more”—dispensing of the nonessentials and transforming her spaces into havens of quiet focus and intentionality.
This embrace of simplicity has been extended into all aspects of her work, too, particularly in the creation of her Easy 8 collection. Comprised of eight minimalist pieces that, according to Nonoo, can be assembled into 22 distinct looks, the Easy 8 keeps closets and suitcases conveniently uncrowded. The spring 2017 launch of the line afforded few surprises for those familiar with Nonoo’s lifestyle and aesthetic, noting the necessity of a manageable wardrobe for anyone who ends up traveling roughly 10 days out of every month, as Nonoo is wont to do. If you’re wondering what else Nonoo packs in her bag, there’s no need to guess—we caught up with her at New York’s Maramara Hotel on Park Avenue to see how she preps for her many adventures around the globe.
“I’ve always been seduced by the way that clothes tell a story”
I always wanted to be a designer because I have always fascinated by the idea of self-presentation. I’m interested in how the clothes that you wear can tell a story before you meet somebody, and that you can use clothing as a powerful tool for storytelling. I’ve always been seduced by the way that clothes tell a story. Aesthetics are something that have always been a part of me, and it’s been interesting to see as I get older that my design sense evolves. Fashion design is obviously what I do primarily, but I also enjoy interior design. I’ve watched as my aesthetic then extends into various other realms and it forces me to question how I would address my design aesthetic in various different places, which I think a lot about with the amount of time that I spend in hotels. I’m always thinking about their design and the elements that I would have designed differently.
“In the days of Instagram, people want less and less”
Fashion has become a tool with which I can improve things in my own life, but it wasn’t always like that. When I first started, I wanted to try to design lots of different things, like evening wear and prints. But eventually I was struck by what felt most appropriate to me and to my lifestyle, and something that I thought was missing in the world, which was the Easy 8. The guiding thought process stemmed from a reductionist approach to everything in my life—from my business to personal matters. I thought, I don’t want all this stuff in my life, not just in my wardrobe, but in my home or my office. I just don’t want cluttered things around me. I want to be able to focus on other things. I was very inspired by Donna Karan’s 7 Easy Pieces, and I felt that a genius concept like that is needed now more than ever. Living in the days of Instagram, it’s assumed that people want more, more, more. But I have found that it’s actually the opposite; in the days of Instagram, people want less and less because they’re so bombarded by everything all the time. The collection is a manifestation of my own feelings, and recognizing that if I’m feeling a certain way then there must be others who feel similarly. My customer needs fewer distractions in her life; she pursues her goals with as much intensity as she does getting dressed in the morning, but she wants to spend more time pursuing her goals than she does putting together an outfit, trying to match what earring goes with what, etc. It all feels like too much, especially for busy women. And I think that the Easy 8 has allowed me to challenge the way the fashion world has traditionally been viewed as frivolous, and instead highlight the functionality of clothing for real life. It’s 8 pieces that create 22 different looks, so it’s not for somebody who is looking for something boring and banal; it’s still fashion. It’s just about striking a balance. I’m a Libra—I’m looking for balance all the time.
“I always arrive at my destination ready to go to a meeting or to go out”
The Easy 8 is the genuine foundation of my wardrobe. Almost everything I bring with me when I travel is from that collection save for a sweaters or two and my gym kit. The whole point of the Easy 8 is that it’s for a woman who is on the go; it’s simple enough for her to travel with and be prepared for things that may come up last minute—even if you get invited to a black-tie gala you can make it work with these pieces. The Florence Blazer Dress is one of my preferred pieces, but on a plane, I usually wear the Beatrice turtleneck and the Keke pant with white Common Projects sneakers. I like to wear a trouser so I can put my feet up, and the Keke pant doesn’t crease, it’s loose and light, and it works for any setting. I always arrive at my destination ready to go to a meeting or to go out. I’m a hotel person, not so much an Airbnb person. I know what I’m getting at a hotel: someone to help with my bags, the concierge to answer my questions, and so on. Often I’ll book a hotel that has a pool so that if I get in at a weird time I can take a swim and a steam right away. But I like to have the services a hotel provides.
“I really have been all over”
I have a very fluid relationship with travel because of my upbringing. My father is originally from Iraq, of Jewish descent, and my mother is English. I was born in Bahrain, and then I lived in England and Paris, and now I’m based in New York; I have been all over. I had a multicultural upbringing and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Many of my friends have lived in just one city their entire lives, and they have a group of friends there with the same background. That’s wonderful, but I would never know what that feels like; my experience growing up was so different.
“I get itchy feet if I’m in one place for too long”
I think that I’m equally as happy on the go as I am at home. I travel about 10 days each month, for personal reasons and for work. Work stuff tends to take me to Europe and around the U.S., while personal travel is without limits—the more far-flung the better. People often say to me, “Oh, I just took a seven-hour flight and I’m zonked,” but that’s nothing to me. I have learned to just get on with it and ignore the side effects of long distance travel. I get itchy feet if I’m in one place for too long. And while I adore living in New York, it would be really hard to live in any one place permanently. That said, I’m incredibly lucky that my work and my personal life are so blurred. Sometimes I’ll say that I’m taking a work trip to London, but of course I’ll see my friends every day that I’m there. Or maybe I’ll be in Dallas for a trunk show, but it’ll be hosted by a friend of mine. It’s a very fluid work-life balance.
“I’m a minimalist in every sense”
My beauty routine doesn’t change when I travel. I’m religious about taking off my makeup at the end of the day. If I could only do two things for makeup, I would use concealer for my under-eye bags—which are always enormous because I don’t sleep that much—and mascara. I’m a minimalist in every sense; less is more. I don’t like to check bags, which limits what I bring with me. I try to sleep on the plane, but when I’m not, I gather my thoughts in a diary. I always get my best ideas on planes—it’s very romantic for me to be on a plane by myself, to look out the window and to really think about what this crazy world means.