With its cobalt floors, cartoon cutouts, and bright Pantone posters, Mira Mikati ’s London office is an accurate reflection of the designer’s approach to design. A firm believer that life shouldn’t be taken too seriously, Mikati infuses her enthusiasm for color and humor into everything she does, which since 2014 has included her namesake line of ready-to-wear. The playful collection of separates takes classic silhouettes and punctuates them with emoji-like appliqués, cheeky sayings, sequins, and cheerfully bright colors.
“Since I was young, I’ve been obsessed with wearing color,” Mikati says with a smile. “My favorite shade is yellow, because it’s the most colorful color.” For as long as she’s been obsessed with color, she’s also been drawn to design and knew from a young age that it was her calling. Born in Lebanon, Mikati moved to Paris when she was 6 years old, and it was there that she eventually studied all aspects of fashion design, from pattern making to shoe design. Though she launched a successful line right after school, she ended up relocating to Lebanon and putting it on hold in order to open a fashion concept store called Plum.
“I moved back to London 12 years ago and was constantly tempted to get back into design. I have three kids and still run Plum, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to find the time to do my own label. But I knew I would make it work if I wanted to,” remembers Mikati. Fate came knocking when Parisian label Façonnable tapped her to do a capsule, which was so successful that it turned into several collections. “I totally caught the bug again and knew I had to start my own thing.”
Mikati’s designs combine an effortless approach to getting dressed—“I love pieces you can wear all day and straight into the evening”—with a passion for art, which means she’s constantly looking for different artists or graphic designers to collaborate with on collections. And at the core, it always comes back to color, no matter the season.
“In the beginning, I used to worry when designing for fall, which is traditionally darker in mood. Then, I decided to treat fall like summer! I add outerwear and appropriate fabrics, of course, but it’s more about thinking about the color palette,” she says. “If it’s cold and rainy, wouldn’t you rather be wearing an orange or yellow raincoat to cheer up your day?”
The collections are all designed at her cheerful head office and start with a theme that evolves throughout the process. The team starts with an inspiration book, and once the story is defined, it gets turned into a proper moodboard. “It’s all about storytelling,” she says. This season, she was inspired by Girl Scouts after seeing Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, and in true Mikati fashion, there’s also a disco element. “It’s like two extremes that have nothing to do with each other, but they’re part of the same story.”
As for the space, the team’s been there for a few months, after finally upgrading from a windowless basement to a light-filled studio. Mikati immediately revamped the space and added plenty of details to make it feel happy, including blue carpet, moveable blocks, and lots of Post Its—“I think they’re the best inventions!”—so that people can constantly sketch and share ideas with ease. The space definitely feels as much like an art studio-meets-children’s-dream-world as it does an office. “I am always about a Peter Pan vibe,” says Mikati. “I never want to grow up!”