There is a seamless connection between architecture and fashion – in the words of Silvano Mendes ‘the language of architecture is used to construct the narrative of fashion’ – both disciplines provide shelter for people in different social dimensions. Both disciplines play pivotal roles in shaping societal narratives and advocating for progressive design principles. To remain relevant in the design industry requires transcending traditional norms and aligning with the needs of contemporary living. Central to their ethos is a shared commitment to minimising the ecological footprint of the design industry and advocating for sustainability as a fundamental principle in modern design practices.
In today’s day and age, establishing sustainable practices – eco-friendly, innovative methods, regeneration programs and circular businesses – has never been more crucial. However, for Maggie Marilyn-Hewitt, the establishment of her purpose-driven fashion powerhouse, Maggie Marilyn, goes beyond trends or necessities; it originates from her authentic aspiration to contribute meaningfully to the betterment of our world.
Tell us about yourself, your background and what led you to where you are now.
I’m a designer, daughter, sister, and soon-to-be mother! I grew up in a place called Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands, at the top of New Zealand. All my memories from childhood have Mother Nature in my peripheral vision – climbing trees with my sisters, swimming in the ocean, running through paddocks. I think the desire to protect Mother Nature is ingrained in Kiwis; it’s almost a subconscious trait. So, when I founded Maggie Marilyn in 2016, I wanted to take that love and use it to redefine what a successful fashion formula looks like by putting people and the planet at the centre of our decision-making.
Tell us about your work – what is the driving philosophy behind what you do?
Maggie Marilyn is a womenswear brand. I’d describe it as ‘liveable luxury’ – those pieces you reach for day in and day out, like the perfect white tee or blazer, mixed in with those special pieces you bring out for weddings, birthdays, and first dates. I fell in love with fashion for its escapism. In my eyes, the designers who did it best were ‘world builders’ – they looked beyond the clothes as just garments and instead as a portal to a way of living or feeling, and you couldn’t help but want to be a part of those worlds. And so, the desire to build a fashion brand was always there, but when I went to fashion school, I discovered how broken the industry was and the impact it was having on the climate and realised I couldn’t move forward with my ambitions if I didn’t bring my values with me.
Can you share some insight into your creative process – when are you most in the zone?
My team and I are constantly in research and development to drive forward fabric innovations that tread lightly on the planet or, in the best-case scenario, have a regenerative impact on the land like our regeneratively-farmed merino wool from Lake Hāwea Station in Central Otago. In terms of the design process, I always start by making a physical mood board that evokes the feeling I want to convey through the clothes, and the design flows from there. The mood board might have images from photographers or artists – people like Zoe Ghertner who has such a beautiful way of lensing our relationship with the natural world, or American painter Cy Twombly, or it could be something more abstract like the details of summer; ripe strawberries, the way the sun hits the ocean on a bluebird day, and skin that looks warm to touch.
What does home mean to you?
I moved to Sydney last year to coincide with opening our first Australian home in Paddington, and it’s been such a beautiful chapter. With welcoming a baby into the world soon, I’m excited to keep putting down roots here and giving my son a childhood immersed in nature and with an appreciation of Mother Nature’s spoils, like my sisters and I were lucky enough to have grown up in the Bay of Islands.
How does your home reflect your passions, interests and creativity?
My approach to interiors is very similar to my style; timeless and never trend driven. Warm, with pops of colour and texture. I recently tracked down some vintage 1970s Kartell bedside tables from when Giotto Stoppino was at the helm. They’re the colour of pale butter – I’m obsessed. I also trust any interior advice given by my friend Alexandra Ponting who designed MM’s Sydney Home in Paddington. She’s such a muse of mine. You know those kinds of people who are just roll-out-of-bed cool?
RELATED: Read about Alexandra Ponting’s Woollahra Home here
What’s your favourite room/object/thing in your house?
I always have fresh flowers in the house which is a habit I inherited from my mum. She has the most amazing picking garden up North, so every room in the house always has a vase filled with something beautiful.
What piece of furniture/design product is currently on your wishlist?
If money was no object, I’d say a Cy Twombly piece! But in reality, I’m on the hunt for a beautiful dining table, maybe something like a mid-century Borsani piece, that can function as a desk at our new office space in Sydney. I don’t like the idea of an MM office environment feeling corporate – I want it to encourage the same warmth, character and comfort that our retail Homes are known for.