Mari Giudicelli Never Thought She'd Work In Fashion — Now She Has Her Own Shoe Line

Courtesy of Mari Giudicelli
Mari Giudicelli taking a selfie in a curved mirror while holding a small sunflower

You've probably seen Mari Giudicelli before. Whether you caught a glimpse of her on the streets of New York, saw her modeling the latest wares on the eponymous site of her dear friend Maryam Nassir Zadeh, saw her promoting her own successful four-year-old footwear line, or you follow her enviable, laid-back looks on her Instagram account, she has likely infiltrated your life in some way. Which is impressive, given that she is only 30.

The Fashion Institute of Technology graduate came to New York from her home country of Brazil in 2010. Quickly noticed by the style set, she became a model and muse for beloved indie designers like Sandy Liang, Maryam Nassir Zadeh, Jacquemus, and Eckhaus Latta, and amassed a substantial Instagram following for her downtown sense of style and photography talent. In 2015, she combined her experience in the industry with her savvy design sense to create her own footwear line that is equal parts understated minimalism and downtown cool. Her personal style references Brazil in an unexpected way, drawing from the country's exquisite nature and architecture.

What piece instantly makes you feel more confident and why?

Any piece that is clean and steamed. Just makes me feel ready for anything.

How do you define your personal style?

Utilitarian and comfortable, but feminine.

How has your style played a role in your career? Has it opened or closed doors for you? Has it evolved as a result?

Absolutely, it connected me with countless people in the industry. I never intended to model — I fell into it because something about me resonated with Maryam Nassir Zadeh — but the experiences were invaluable, which has really taught me a lot about the behind-the-scenes workings of a brand. As long as I’m comfortable and dressed like myself, I feel confident and that to me is the most important in any business affair.

Mari Giudicelli in Maryam Nassir Zadeh. Courtesy of Mari Giudicelli

What fashion category do you feel is lacking? What would you like to see more of?

I would love to see more beautifully made, warm coats.

Cashmere sweaters are a weak spot for me — I kind of collect them.

What is your daily uniform? How has it changed? Stayed the same? Why is it your uniform?

Off-white or blue jeans and an oversized cashmere sweater in the winter, and shorts and a cotton button-down in the summer. And my gold jewelry always, and a good handbag and shoes.

It’s been the same for the past couple of years and it works for me, as I don’t have to think too much about it. I have a few colors of each item and rotate them throughout the week. I like to feel comfortable and I dress for what I'm doing that day.

Dan McMahon

What style item do you covet the most? A category, a designer, a specific item? Or what item do you always gravitate toward? What item do you own multiple versions of? Why?

Cashmere sweaters are a weak spot for me — I kind of collect them. I also have many pairs of denim. And obviously shoes! I have way too many; it’s embarrassing. When I find one I love, I usually get it in two color ways.

If money were no object, what is one outrageous luxury item you would invest in and why?

Realistically, a beautiful beach house. Does that count? Irresponsibly, gold sex toys and a Tesla. They’re gorgeous. But OK, fashion-wise, I think a Céline fur shearling coat that I would wear forever.

Can you recall an outfit you have worn that was iconic for you — either you wore it for a momentous occasion, or it signified a turning point in your life or style? What inspired it/how did it happen?

Nothing iconic or that remarkable, but for the longest time, I didn’t wear dresses or skirts. When I started modeling, I wore them on shoots and it made me feel different, in a good way. I used to only wear pants and shorts because it made me feel safe and comfortable. When trying skirts and dresses on shoots, I started to look at myself in a way I haven't before — I felt feminine, delicate, gentle, and somewhat powerful, too.

Dan McMahon

Which item in your closet is your most beloved/have you owned for the longest and why?

I think probably the pieces of family jewelry I've inherited. They're timeless and special — something I’ll have forever.

How has living in New York influenced your personal style? How does your style recognize your Brazilian heritage?

It changed drastically, to be honest. I grew up wearing flip-flops and barely any clothes. When I moved to New York to go to school, I realized I needed to look presentable, and started dressing for other people.

That started to change as I realized it didn’t feel or look right. And as I started working in the fashion industry, I started to have contact with real well-made pieces, and that changed my relationship with clothing. I started valuing construction versus just the appearance of it. So I slowly started to question every item in my closet and say goodbye to the ones that weren’t me and weren’t truly beautiful in the whole sense of the word. I started bringing back some Brazilian references and that mix is what my personal style is today. From textures and materials, natural colors and shapes, to architecture and casualness and simplicity — it’s all in there.

Courtesy of Mari Giudicelli

What are some of your favorite places to shop in New York?

Malin Landaeus, Maryam Nassir Zadeh, the streets of Chinatown, Oroboro, and Céline. Honestly, I also love eBay and Etsy and other secondhand shops.

When did your interest in fashion start? Was there a person in your life who particularly influenced you?

My mother worked in the Brazilian fashion industry for many years as an accessories designer, so I grew up surrounded by elements of it. She was a fashion store manager for a couple years, then got promoted as a buyer, and eventually started developing handbags and sunglasses for the brand. She sourced everything, and we had a bunch of materials and scraps laying around the house, which I was welcome to use. We were very crafty when I was young; I always loved working with my hands. I never thought it would become my career, though. I went to art school in Rio, and after a couple years working with all kinds of mediums, I decided to focus in one thing. That’s when I learned about Parsons, and the rest is history.

I’m usually drawn to the items that sell the least!

How did modeling impact your perceptions of style and individuality, and your personal style, if at all?

When I model, I enjoy learning about the brand I’m working for. It’s interesting to see what sold best and what didn’t, for example. You start to get an understanding, a bigger picture in terms of trends through sales. Inevitably, I started to avoid the “best sellers.” I’m usually drawn to the items that sell the least! And as I mentioned before, I got to touch and compare different fabrics and qualities, which also enriched my sense of style.

Kris Connor/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

How would you describe the differences between Brazilian and American style? How does your brand embody both, if you feel it does?

It’s hard to generalize, because it really depends on the city and, of course, the people. But overall Brazilians love colors and prints and flowy fabrics. It’s very playful and laid-back. I also think there’s a big European influence, especially Italian, with the big sunglasses, tight clothes, prints, sexy vibe. I don’t think I take much from the Brazilian fashion style per se, but more from the nature, fine art, and architecture styles.

How does sustainability factor into your personal fashion practices and those of your brand? Do you still source fabrics and produce everything in Brazil, and if so, why?

I simply can’t make a product without thinking about where its elements and components come from, how I pack it, how I ship it, how I market it. It’s a long list of things to question and care about, and much more work. And because of that, I learned to appreciate other brands that have the same ethics, so I tend to shop there or secondhand.

We do source and produce everything in Brazil, even though the country is going through major changes with the newly elected president, which makes our job 10 times harder. I believe in having a low carbon footprint by minimizing the amount of shipping and unnecessary waste, and I strive to achieve that goal with my company. We try to keep most of the sourcing and manufacturing local so there's no need to ship materials from all over the world. Our packaging is 100 percent recycled and recyclable, and doesn't include any plastic.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.