• Portrait of Mahsa Willis

    Mahsa Willis in the Cotton Bow Blouse

  • People

    Mahsa Willis

    • We visit designer Mahsa Willis in her mid-century home, nestled in the native bush of the Waitakere Ranges. It is here that Mahsa designs and refines her selection of garments for Mahsa the label — a collection of wardrobe staples that celebrate femininity and romance. An extension of her mantra, ‘Beautiful Imperfection’, both Mahsa’s lifestyle and home echo her wabi-sabi values and honor a way of living with only the bare necessities.

    • — What were your inspirations for Yesterday Modern 2 collection?

      Georgia O'Keeffe, modernist architecture, my bush habitat, enduring furniture and Giorgio Morandi.

      — There is a constant mood that surrounds each of your collections. Who are your constant Mahsa muses?

      I look to artists, writers, film makers, and classic, strong feminine icons, such as O'Keeffe, Kahlo, Coppola, Birkin, Hardy, Hutton, Bergman. I'm inspired by their unique and simplified expressions. I also look to my Grandmother and Mother who expressed themselves through contrasts: tweed with pearls, lipstick and kaftans. Their constant style was leather sandals, no make up, just face oil and black kohl eyeliner... one was conformist the other was non conformist.

      — We admire how edited your collections are, and actually this notion extends into your daily life and home. What are your thoughts on editing, simplifying ones life?

      For me, it's a balance between emotion, need and function. It pays not to fulfil just one of these elements. Editing is something I'm learning to appreciate and enjoy. Less is definitely more in my humble experience. Regarding my collections, I look to what I need and how I personally rotate my wardrobe, blending ‘needs’ with ‘mood’ – it makes for easy dressing. We need a lot less than we've been led to believe. I prefer to spend less time consuming and more time exploring projects that safisfy long term happiness.

  • Mahsa Work Desk

    Work desk and fabrics for the collection

Mahsa O'Keeffe Dress

Mahsa at home in her natural surrounding wearing the O’Keeffe Dress

  • Mahsa at home

    Mahsa at home

    • — Who are some makers or designers you are inspired by, or continuously come back to for reference.

      So many.....it's a very hard question to answer simply! Noguchi, Alvar Aalto, Nakashima, Morandi, Eames, O’Keeffe, Luis Barragan, Studio Mumbai, Charlotte Perriand, Margaret Howell, Sophie Buhai, Dries Van Noten, Jacquemus, Celine/Philo, Rochas, Calvin Klein (the 70s/80s/90s eras especially). Bruce Webber’s Calvin Klein campaigns. Lindbergh, Newton, Penn, Lena C Emery, Cass Bird, The Gentle Woman magazine, Unconditional magazine, Kinfolk.......

      — I know you love music and films. What are your top three films?

      I am Love, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, All About My Mother, Lost In Translation, A Single Man, The Piano. (Too hard to edit down to three!)

      — And what album are you listening to at the moment?

      Dream River - Bill Callahan / Preservation - Nadia Reid / Let's Get Lost - Chet Baker / A Moon Shaped Pool – Radiohead / Melodrama - Lorde — I love dancing to this with my 10-yr-old daughter.

    • — You're focused on practicing self care. What are some of your beauty and health rituals?

      Yoga, meditation, eating a mostly organic and paleo diet, walking in nature, sleeping as much as I can, and practising Buddhist principles. I like to practise self care because the more you're in the habit of it, the more joy comes to you. It helps my creativity to be exploring my internal self too, this doesn't mean I take it too seriously, it just means I value it. My parents were organic agriculture pioneers, here in New Zealand, and live very holistically to this day. There is nothing I love more than chilled French champagne, sunshine, the ocean, dancing and laughter. Beautiful Imperfection is my mantra.

      — You have such a strong network of girlfriends around you, how do you like to spend an evening together?

      We share food, stories, ideas, art, music, films, and most of all we openly love and support one another. I love the solidarity this brings, it makes my heart full. After all, love is what we all seek.

      Shot exclusively for My Chameleon.

    • "I personally rotate my wardrobe, blending ‘needs’ with ‘mood’ – it makes for easy dressing..."

Mahsa O'Keeffe Dress in White

Close up on the O'Keeffe Dress