Dominican-born Miguelina Gambaccini launched her eponymous label with the aim of simplifying vacation packing – designing pieces to carry you effortlessly from beach to bar. Miguelina tells her story behind the brand and gives us the low-down on everything from her start in the fashion biz to her #travelfavs… we cannot help but want to jump into her suitcase!
VacationStyle: How did you get started in the Fashion industry?
Miguelina Gambaccini: I think anyone would be lying in this industry if they said no one helped their career along the way. Friends, or trips, or art continually provide fresh inspiration, and, as cheesy as it seems, paying it forward always comes back around. I believe in karma.
I worked for the stylist Arlene La Marca and as couture merchandiser for Emanuel Ungaro. They both were patient and let me see their vision — something I try and do with everyone who I hire.
VS: Tell us about what you wound up packing for your honeymoon when you had that AHA moment?
MG: Talk about a #TBT…It was back in 1998 — I was heading to Thailand with my then-husband and I realized I was trying to stuff way too much stuff in my suitcase. You know when you’re trying to envision every single outfit you might need and you just start getting dizzy? Yeah, that was me, looking in the mirror and completely indecisive. Plus, I was trying to impress a new groom!
That really was the spark that started Miguelina. I wanted options that were easy to pack but could still look good in diverse situations. At that point, there weren’t really any labels that catered to the stylish traveler. It either had to be glamorous or frumpy and functional. I knew I could combine the two.
VS: What is the most spiritual place you have traveled to?
MG: Huautla de Jiménez, in Mexico — to refer to it in terms of travel would be a disservice; I can only call my time there a journey. That may sound trite, but this Oaxacan town was the home of Maria Sabina, the first native shaman who let people from outside of Mexico take part in the “velada,” a ritual of cleansing and purification that involves the use of the psilocybin or “magic” mushroom.
Shamans still perform it today…it’s an experience that you need to prepare for, but one that can put you in touch with a part of your mind you didn’t even know existed. Huautla de Jiménez has hosted everyone from John Lennon to Mick Jagger — it’s counter-culturist but not in a violent or forced way, and there are also beautiful waterfalls, hills, and caves that help shape your transcendental trip. Plus, local Mazatec women make vivid, hand-woven textiles that take on new meaning after your time with a shaman. also this was the what inspired my new jewelry collaboration with Sophie Simone.
VS: Favorite Hotels?
MG: Amansala in Tulum — I have been going here for years and years…the food is fresh and healthy and their “Bikini Bootcamp” will whip your body into shape and give you a tan.
La Mamounia in Marrakech — the Jacques Garcia-designed renovation has given this magical property a chic refresh without losing any of its’ old world charm.
Chiltern Firehouse — I'm addicted to everything Andre Balazs does, but this spot may be my favorite; He has completely captured the fashion-forward, cutting-edge style of London. It’s a scene, but in the best possible way.
VS: What items can you not travel without?
MG: My lace pareos, caftans, and an oversized pair of Céline shades are always my go-to, as well as MoroccanOil Intense Curl Cream, a leave-in conditioner that’s perfect for my curly hair. Clarins’ Sunscreen and Palos Santo incense sticks I like to light in new surroundings to purify the energy — both always come with me, too.
VS: What some of your favorite designers to wear on vacation, other than yours?
MG: Well, you could pack five Miguelina pieces and be set — and carry them all in your Miguelina X Oceana bag, but, if I have to pack other designers, I’d say… Céline for sunglasses and bags, Brian Atwood heels, Alejandro Ingelmo sneakers, K. Jacques sandals, my friend Timo Weiland’s moto jackets for some edge and Tumi luggage.
VS: How would you describe your style while on vacation?
MG: When you’re a designer, you’re never off duty. You want to sell your aesthetic, as mercenary as that sounds. But, of course, you also want to be authentic. I would never wear something I am not comfortable in, both physically and emotionally. I try and look put together but still effortless, a sort of jet-set chic that doesn’t look like I’m trying too hard. That means Miguelina lace caftans and pareos over my bikinis during the day and then switching them out for jumpsuits for a more sexy, nighttime look.
VS: If you could go on a trip with anyone who would it be and where would you go?
MG: Zanzibar! No bold-faced names, just my closest friends. When you’re traveling to a new place, you want to experience it with the people who know your patterns. You don’t want to have to put up a front.
VS: If you could raid anyone’s suitcase, who would it be?
MG: Lee Radziwill. She has such singular, standout style and has been to the most glamorous destinations in existence with the coolest people. I can imagine she would casually pack a gigantic emerald some Indian Rajah gifted her alongside a bright, hand-crafted poncho that only cost a dozen pesos or a T-shirt that Andy Warhol doodled on. Her book, Happy Times, is a chronicle of that je-ne-sais-quoi wardrobe, and it always inspires me to add a bit of whimsy and fabulous into my packing list.
VS: If you had the chance to get remarried, what would you wear and where would it be?
MG: I would wear a custom-designed Miguelina lace dress and no shoes…so I could feel the sand on my feet on the beach in Tulum, my second home.
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