By Mignonne Gavigan Smith
The essence behind the accessories line, Mignonne Gavigan, is to redefine statement jewelry. We bring expertly crafted necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and now scarves, all hand-beaded by the same artisans who do the beadwork and embroidery for brands such as Valentino, Dior, Oscar de la Renta, and more, to our customer. We want our customer to feel unique and bold, but not feel like she can only wear her MG piece on a special occasion. The MG pieces are ones you can wear day to night… dress it down with some jeans and a t-shirt, or throw it on with an evening gown.
"We want our customer to feel unique and bold..."
We bring couture details to everyday accessories. I am from the South and LOVE color — so after living and working in New York for over 10 years, my bold splashes of color are a contrast to the typical New York uniform of all black. I draw inspiration from many years of inspirational travel all over the world. I love looking to different cultures and their textiles for techniques and color inspiration. I also love wandering the streets of New York finding inspiration all around, such as in the cracks of the sidewalk or the pattern the paint peeling off old buildings make.
"after living and working in New York for over 10 years, my bold splashes of color are a contrast to the typical New York uniform of all black."
When I began this journey, I was working as an assistant apparel designer after attending Parsons School of Design in both Paris and New York City. I was draping a gown for the runway and I was using an old vintage dress for beadwork inspiration. I had ripped up the dress into many pieces and one was large enough to wear. As I was leaving the studio, I draped the large irregular shaped piece around my neck and secured it with a safety pin. On my walk home through Soho, at least 3 people stopped me and asked where could they buy one. I had been an intern in the Marc Jacobs design studio and had fallen in love with the details of couture pieces. The inside of the garments are just as intricate and time consuming to create as the outsides. He had used covered snaps on his couture jackets, and so when I came up with my new versions of the draped scarf necklace, I likened the details to that of a couture piece, using the highest quality silk chiffon from France and using elements like a garment label and covered snaps as you’d find in a couture gown. I began selling them here and there to friends and friends of friends. The word spread like wildfire!
"As I was leaving the studio, I draped the large irregular shaped piece around my neck and secured it with a safety pin. On my walk home through Soho, at least 3 people stopped me and asked where could they buy one."
The fact that MG pieces are bold and bright are because I’m not a muted person, and I love to express myself through what I’m wearing. I’m drawn to color and texture. It’s a feeling you get when you get dressed or pick out what you’re wearing. I worked in fashion for so long in NY, and so many places require you to dress a certain way… or only wear certain colors. I wanted to be different. I wanted to freely dress in as much or little color as possible. As I took on higher level design roles working for other designers, I more and more felt comfortable dressing the way I wanted to. And here we are! The boldness led me to starting my own collection and bringing this freedom of dressing to our customers.
"I wanted to be different. I wanted to freely dress in as much or little color as possible."
The leap to starting a company was thought out over many years. I knew I needed the right team in place (the best business partner and sales team) as well as a solid foundation of what our aesthetic would be. I needed to have relationships with production facilities that I could trust, have faith in my abilities to create a cohesive, creative collection one after another, and have the stamina to see it through. It has been an incredible journey so far, and I look forward to carrying on the MG brand for years to come.
“At this point in my life and my career, I want to be comfortable with a splash of contrast.... Something I can wear every day - dressed professionally or low key and unassuming."
Throughout her 10-year career as a designer in New York, Mignonne Gavigan Smith has explored design and honed her skills designing beautifully crafted pieces, from shoes to handbags to apparel. After seeing the intricate artistry that goes into handmade pieces and examining design through different lenses, Mignonne created an eye-catching way to wear beautifully detailed silks and fabrics as statement-making pieces that can transform any outfit. Mignonne first created her signature beaded chiffon scarf necklace in early 2009. The idea was born when she draped a ripped piece of an embellished vintage gown around her neck. Realizing the impact that the ornate beauty of couture gowns could have on an everyday outfit in the form of accessories, Mignonne used her experience with ready-to-wear collections to perfect the pieces that have now been seen on celebrities like Jessica Biel-Timberlake, Kate Mara, Ivanka Trump, and more.
Mignonne began her career as a designer studying at Parsons Paris and Parsons New York, during which time she interned with the design team for Marc Jacobs Collection. Mignonne moved on as a designer for Form, an aesthetically forward design collective that based its designs on the boundaries of the avant-garde. Since then, she has designed handbags for Khirma Eliazov, shoes for Rachel Roy, and was most recently the senior shoe designer for Loeffler Randall. Her experience has given her the opportunity to travel the world looking for inspiration and materials; this exposure to other cultures and new ways to look at design has played a vital role in her evolution as a designer.