1. Where did the concept of MUA MUA originate?
The Bali bombings of Kuta in 2002 and the Japanese Kamikaze attacks in 2006 stopped the tourism in Bali. In 2006, I moved to Bali and met Waian, a beach vendor, [named] Kadek’s, [her] mother, who begged me to buy this horrible hand-crocheted bikini. They didn’t have money at all so I bought it. The next day they came again and asked the same. I said that crochet bikini didn’t fit me at all and asked her to make a crochet monster for my friends.
So I designed ten black bloody monsters and that’s how Mua Mua came into the world. They were funny portraits of my friends, my friend Fa was a mermaid, Angy was the gay angel. Mua Mua in Italian is also the onomatopoeia for a kiss.
2. Why did you choose Bali as the place of where the dolls are made? Is everything made in Bali or just the dolls?
The dolls are made in Bali, but mostly everything else is made here in Italy. Since 2010 we have made six ready-to-wear collections and customized gadgets.
3. Is this your first leap in the fashion industry, or have you dabbled in it before?
Not really. When I was living in Milan, I had a small clothing brand called Luvilù.
4. Who were the first celebs you decided to recreate and why? How many different persona are there now?
There were so many, I cannot count…I made Karl (cfr Karl Lagerfeld) as a present because they invited me to a fashion show in Venice, it was a way to thank him.
5. Has the response to MUA MUA been what you expected? What’s the moment you realized you made the right decision to create this collection?
The Mua Mua dolls help people and are based on positive energy. Full of scars, they pretend to protect their owner by transforming bad energy into positive vibrations. If you believe that dolls are only for kids you will have to review your judgment once you have discovered the Mua Mua dolls and what they have to tell you.
At first they will make you laugh, and then they’ll slowly make you realize that we live in a world of fantasy where gods and goddesses are trying desperately to reach a state of perfection. Mua Mua applies fair-trade principles: the girls who make the dolls live in rural areas and thanks to the income from making the dolls, they can pay for University as Kadek did, the bikini vendor’s daughter who now attends University in Japan.
Mua Mua Dolls also contributes to and participates in the implementation of The “Design Miami ” in the island of Sumbawa in Indonesia. The Harapan Project’s goal is to fund the construction of a social and educational center in the island of Sumbawa for 240 children, providing them with educational, social, medical and sanitary facilities. They also provide vaccinations, medical checkups and treatments for the local population that are duly controlled by professionals. Their slogan is “we fight to build a better future”.
Thanks to Mr. Karl Lagerfeld, who bought 500 dolls, we were able to renew the old school in Nangadoro, Sumbawa and provided each little girl with full education, books, clothing, and medical assistance.
6. What happened that convinced you to expand beyond just dolls?
I love fashion, it’s my background and I cannot live without creating. The Mua Mua Dolls have also inspired a clothing capsule collection that includes t-shirts, fleeces, sweaters, scarves, and jackets; created with the same spirit and philosophy, funny but always classy. The dolls make up 20% of the business.
7. Are there any collaborations in the works for MUA MUA?
We did a Lady Gaga workshop with Barneys and Karl dolls were sold at En Avance.
8. What will we see in future collections?
The future collection is inspired by the art market. Mua Mua dolls are a form of Pop Art. Next December during Anthony Doddsand Design Miami I will premiere a limited edition of ten artists’ dolls, hand- crocheted sculptures, featuring the most famous modern and contemporary artists. The exhibition ARTIST ABDUCTION will open next December the 5th in Miami at En Avance, and will run till December 24th.
Photographer: Anthony Dodds