"I grew up in Rio, Brazil. Rio is very beautiful but also a dangerous city, so I learned to be aware and not too naive from a young age."
Model, designer, muse - Mari Giudicelli is a woman of the world. Brazilian-born and currently Brooklyn-based, her's was a childhood spent surrounded by family and nature. "I was very lucky to have adventurous parents who took me on their trips around the country," she tells us from New Mexico where she is working on her forthcoming collection, "so I was always barefoot in nature, eating different fruits and becoming friends with the local kids." After studying graphic design in her early 20s, Giudicelli discovered a visa program which allowed her to study in the United States, and began a course at Parsons School of Design, followed by the Fashion Institute of Technology at the State University of New York, where she specialised in leather craftsmanship. During this time Giudicelli was scouted on the streets of her adopted hometown by photographer Dan McMahon, and it was here, on a "lovely gloomy day, one of the first days of fall" in New York, scored by the sound of cicadas singing, we got to know our newest digital cover girl and Face of October - Mari Giudicelli.
Upon graduation, Giudicelli's love of footwear blossomed, and she began designing and crafting her own eponymous line of shoes. A combination of her nature-driven upbringing and the street-influenced culture of NYC was manifested in her pieces - a luxurious and practical assortment of mules, flats and boots, crafted from materials sourced and produced in her mother country, Brazil. Sophisticated, understated, and an embodiment of Giudicelli's personal spirit. "Being a model for me is about representing the ideas behind a product and a brand, the lifestyle and choices," she explains. "As a designer I have the freedom to express my own ideas that are true to my beliefs. I am lucky to have worked with brands I really admire and are in line with my beliefs, but having my own is extremely special and a big responsibility."
Through her modelling (she was the face of friend and collaborator Maryam Nassir Zadeh’s e-shop) and design work, Giudicelli has acquired an almost-obsessive cult following, thanks in part to her ability to translate the wants and needs of modern women into covetable footwear, but also due to her own inimitable aesthetic - unfussy yet considered, with tailored classics and practical accessories mainstays in her personal wardrobe. "[My style is] utilitarian and timeless," she says, and her go-to outfit for an evening out reflects the sentiment: "vintage 501s, a white tee and boots." A Cancer, she confesses to being "very introspective and caring ... I love being at home with my family, close to friends," and her list of can't-live-withouts perpetuate the usual pillars of the sign: "brushing my teeth, hot showers, a book, coffee."
"I started designing things I’d like to wear, but soon realised I need to to design for others as well. I really enjoy that process of discovering about other people's desires, taste and expectations."
'Maia' to those she holds closest, Giudicelli finds inspiration in the everyday exchanges of people: "sincere human interactions with each other and with nature. I really love witnessing those, and find it very beautiful. I’m also inspired by smells, architecture, my friends and vintage garb. How things used to be made with such care and attention." It's this throwback to the care and attention taken in the past that is visible throughout her own designs, her creative process fuelled by an opposition to the frenzied cycle of fast fashion and its subsequent waste. "I try to balance my ideas of living a simple life with the fashion industry expectations and it’s a constant challenge. [New York has] helped me grow in many ways, but can be frustrating sometimes. I believe in trying to spread the idea of not producing waste, not following trends, of having something you can wear for a long time, and not dispose it after a season or two," she explains. "It’s difficult in a city where everything has to be made and dealt with so fast. So I think the biggest influence it has on me is the reminder that I want to work on something totally opposite to it."
"I am slowly reducing the amount of stuff I own, I don’t have much," says Giudicelli. "I live in a small studio apartment, but I want to have less and less everyday. The plan is to fly light, and let things happen naturally."
Giudicelli's days are often spent in transit - she travels between New York and Brazil regularly - but for the the immediate future she is focusing on the here and now. "I’m working on launching our new website, on the AW 19 collection, training my dog and other personal projects." A practical thinker, Giudicelli's personal mantra depicts a woman who walks her own path, guided by her instincts: "It’s ok, there’s a solution, just think." As a household name in a frenetic industry such as fashion, it's the quiet moments in between the chaos that are most beloved by the model and designer, and her life lesson is one we want to make our own. "Say yes," she says. "Don't be afraid."
"[What makes me smile?] A lot of things actually. Anything sincere, innocent mistakes, making eye contact with animals, clean socks, sunshine hitting my face ..."
PHOTOGRAPHY Sally Griffiths
FASHION Olivia Kozlowski
MODEL Mari Giudicelli
HAIR Taichi Saito @ Streeters
MAKEUP Ryo Yamazaki @ MAM-NYC