MAIMOUN INTRODUCING A COLLABORATION WITH MICHAELA CO. VINTAGE, AND OUR DIALOGUE BELOW
You are based out of Kansas, has that influenced your path, your aesthetic and overall brand?
I grew up in Kansas City and returned after college to begin michaela co. For me, the privacy and quiet here provides the opportunity to find moments to learn and develop inspiration. My aim is to curate and create for a woman who is thoughtful, inquisitive, and strongly influenced by a deep sensitivity to her surroundings. One with a sense of modernity, yet a yearning for the past — a sense of privacy, while exuding an underlying sensuality. These feelings were born from my environment and experiences here — the people, vast skies, tall grasses, quiet mornings and quiet evenings.
Tell us about a memory from your youth (big or small) that has in some way shaped you?
I split my time when I was young between my father and mother’s respective houses — both sides of my family are introverted, creative, and introspective in nature, which provided periods of time during which I would find myself alone. I think this led to a strong development of and relationship with my inner voice and the practice of observation. I would spend hours in the gardens or houses studying things that were there. Perhaps this was part of what led me to pursue a career in curation later in life.
What was your process for curating this exclusive collection for our store?
I wanted to bring you a collection that contained a variety of pieces reflecting the feeling of summer mornings. Clean rains and new greens. Clarity and the feeling of a refresh is portrayed with the glassware, colored from crystal clear to a tint of yellowish-green. Natural elements in the form of wood and coral were also introduced — and sterling silver is a constant for me in any season. The first piece I chose was the set of heavy glass bookends. The slight green tint and the bubbles within the glass, like dew or rain — and more plainly, their function doubling as vases, seemed to wholly encompass the story I wished to portray. The other pieces of the collection followed and flowed from there.
What references culturally or visually are you inspired by the most?
I am most creatively driven by the feel of things. Emotional feeling and physical feeling. Particularly emotions of intimacy and longing, a delicate secrecy, discernment and a lush sparsity. And on the other hand, physical touch is what drives me in my design work.
I find the balance and play of emotional and physical feeling to be why I consider apparel design such a unique creative field — and I think why I am drawn to it above all else. What one designs and creates interacts with a person directly — rests upon their skin, is present in their private life. Unlike something beautiful to place flowers in, something provoking to hang on a wall, or something inspiring to place on a bookshelf, clothing is directly involved with the body as one experiences one’s existence… and I’ve always found something so intimate and incredible about that concept. It’s a privilege, truly. A woman’s completely unguarded moments are accessible to a clothing designer in an unusually personal way.
Along with your vintage store, you also have a contemporary fashion line that you make to order, do the two inspire each other? How do you see them evolving?
Yes, the two are influenced by each other — I find they work hand in hand to reinforce and support one another. I am looking to grow and expand both steadily in number and frequency released in the upcoming year.
What decade or period of time do you most feel connected to, why?
I suppose I am most connected to the current time period - or at least I try to be. But my inspirations come from various time periods from the past. For jewelry I am attracted to designs usually dating between the 50s and 70s with artists like Hans Hansen, Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe, and Betty Cooke. For interior design and architecture I have a special place in my heart for the 1930s. Currently for clothing I am particularly fond of the late 80s and early to mid 90s, especially Giorgio Armani menswear and womenswear from this time period.
What is something you are currently revisiting?
I recently moved my workspace into a new studio in the warehouse district of Kansas City. I had previously been working from home, so I am finding I am now able to dive into redefining my home space as well as my workspace. To begin to grow and develop each into their own and evolve both into what they mean and fulfill for me individually will be exciting.
Any tricks of the trade for aspiring vintage collectors?
Rather than any specific criteria, for me it is the feeling you wish to get from an item that is important to understand and develop within yourself. The act of discovering an item that was made in a certain time with a specific context in mind, and reinterpreting that item in your own time and life’s context is exciting and satisfying. The item is recontextualized, but an echo of what it used to be and mean will always be pulled through and present. This history and echo provides so much depth, and this layered and complex feeling within an item is what I look for. You don’t always need to be able to verbalize or put your finger on what it is about something that is drawing you in. The material may not always be the finest, the item may not be in pristine condition, but the feeling you get when you are holding the piece and once you add it to your personal space should feel like, not only an extension of yourself, but a more layered and evocative version.
What is something you are yearning to experience or learn?
Soon I am headed to South America for a couple of weeks — it will be my first time to the continent and I am so thrilled to have the opportunity! One of the stops will be walking the four day hike called the Quilotoa Loop in Ecuador. You walk along a trail through the undulating hills of the Andes Mountains, stopping at small towns along the way to rest at night, and ending at a large crater lake. I have never done anything like the loop before, so the trip will definitely be filled with new experiences.
Maimoun comes from the Persian language word meaning to welcome guests/invite company. If you could invite anyone to dinner, who would it be and why?
I would love to host my great grandmother on my mother’s side. She passed away before I had a chance to meet her and I’ve always heard such great stories. My mother always said she was vivacious and kind and smelled of jasmine and geranium.