Vogue Reviews Mott50 X Margherita Collection
February 27, 2019
Imagine a summer holiday art-directed by a Missoni scion, and a picture comes to mind: generations of impossibly chic Italians, toes lapped by the Mediterranean, dressed in breezy caftans and crochet bikinis. Close—only the colorful beachwear in this scene delivers a serious dose of sun protection. Mott50, the cult label known for creating minimalist swimsuits and cover-ups out of UV-shielding fabric, has teamed up with Margherita Maccapani Missoni on a new capsule, launching today. To judge from the color-blocked one-pieces and aquatic prints, the directive is every bit about a life well lived, indoors and out.
For the 35-year-old creative director (newly appointed to oversee the house’s M Missoni line), the chance to flex her warm-weather design skills became a family affair. “I loved the fact that I could do both adult and children’s [clothing] in the same collection,” says Missoni, who has two young sons. “Putting sunscreen all over their bodies is extremely challenging! Even if we’re not at the beach, they’re always ready to jump in the water, whether it’s a river or a swimming pool.” While Missoni herself has long been a daily sunscreen devotee—she remembers her mother lambasting low-SPF tanning oils in the ’80s and ’90s—parenting brought a newfound appreciation of UPF fabrics. (Short for ultraviolet protection factor, it’s a textile-specific rating system akin to SPF; hence the 50 in Mott50’s name, signaling a strong barrier to light—no reapplication necessary.)
In the label’s new collection, that translates to long-sleeve rash guards in a vibrant fish pattern, perfect for Augusto, 3, and Otto, 5. Meanwhile, there’s a suite of matching swimsuits for women and girls. The two-tone tank comes with a whimsical ruffled waist; a prim pointed collar tops the multicolored long-sleeve suit (already a favorite, which is why it’s called the Margherita). “I’m always into animal prints, and since we were doing swimwear, we did a whole research [into] tropical fish scales,” says Missoni. A mermaid-like purple iteration was the winner—and, like that creature of myth, the pattern also plays well on land, as seen in the line’s yoga leggings and sports bra.
But the quintessential Italian element is, far and away, those coordinating fashion turbans—an idea sparked by a set of vintage swimming caps in Missoni’s archives and then adapted into an of-the-moment hair accessory. Made of the same UPF fabric, this iteration (offered in six colorways) is as much about style and seaworthiness as it is about protection. For some, that means sparing highlighted hair from UV exposure; for others, it’s about preventing unseen damage to the scalp. As Mott50 founder Anne Reilly explains, that’s where her aunt, a fair blonde, first developed a deadly melanoma; Reilly’s mother is also now battling that same form of skin cancer.
That family health history is partly what inspired the label. Since Mott50 launched in 2011, “there’s definitely more competition for us, but I also think it’s making [the category] more normal,” says Reilly, who remembers a time when UPF offerings were just “baggy khaki pants, almost like fishing gear”—hardly appealing for a stylish twentysomething. Now, she says, “I have a 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old, and they think bathing suits have long sleeves. I’m going to try to keep it that way as long as possible!”