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NEW YORK — Margherita Missoni may be the world’s most glamorous philosophy student. “These are the Onassis glasses,” she says, slipping on a pair of huge caramel-colored shades at Selima Optique. “And these are the Madonna glasses.” How to choose? She convinces mom to buy both. After all, Angela Missoni’s 19-year old daughter — the granddaughter of Rosita and Ottavio Missoni — has a little bit of both Jackie O’s chic and the rock icon in her.

In town this week with her mother and Uncle Vittorio to promote the family business, Margherita has found New York the perfect antidote to the student life in Milan. So far, she’s hit the town with Stella Schnabel one day and taken in the Chinese New Year parade and some shopping with mom.

This story first appeared in the February 6, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“I try to find an equilibrium in my life,” she says. “I can’t just study because of the world I was brought into. I went to my first fashion show at two weeks old. I’ve seen the real world, but I love philosophy. It’s something you study because you love it.” She may go into fashion one day but is content to finish her studies first.

“Suzy Menkes told me, ‘Don’t study too much. It would be a great loss to fashion,’” says Margherita. “But philosophy helps you live in the fashion world. It helps you to use it and not be used by it.”

With that, the mother-daughter duo sweeps into Barneys New York. Their shopping philosophy: get it while you can. Spinning through without a moment to spare, they then linger in the bag department. “We have different styles, but similar tastes,” says Margherita.

“She’s still in evolution,” says Angela. But the girl loves clothes. “When she was little, she used to cry, ‘Mommy, you never take me shopping.’ Now she’s old enough to go by herself. She even finds things for me and calls me from the store.”

Of course, they don’t agree about everything. “About sneakers we never agree,” admits Margherita.

“I don’t wear sneakers,” says Angela with disdain.

They don’t agree about Balenciaga bags, either. “I’m so tired of this bag,” sighs Angela, as Margherita slings one across her body with a pout. “Big or small, to me they’re all the same. I’m bored.”

Margherita pleads, pulling one bag then the next from a display. Mom rolls her eyes. “I’d never buy something that everyone has,” says Angela. “I’m not a snob, but I like things that are unusual.” Take a metallic gold Bottega Veneta bag from last season, for example. For $200, Angela determines it can’t be left behind. Margherita hopes to carry her school books in it.

Though she insists that none of her classmates in Milan know about her fashionable background, at Columbia University, which Margherita wants to visit while she’s here, she’d be the gorgeous Italian exchange student with the killer wardrobe. She’s thinking of transferring next semester when her boyfriend, an international business student, graduates and moves here.

She’d be farther away from home, but closer to the Marc Jacobs boutique. “He’s my favorite designer,” says Margherita, who pairs Jacobs’ brass-buttoned boots with her Missoni dresses. “I took my grandma to get the same boots in black. They’re good for old ladies too!”

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