Meet Christina Mannino, From DJing to Design—A Name to Know
In the notoriously male-dominated world of DJing and design, we spoke to an unshakable, upbeat (pink and floral silk jammies, self-designed oversized LØVE MEANS NØTHING® sweatshirt-wearing, even during this interview) established force of a woman who not only spins beats but produces some pretty solid threads too. When Christina Mannino isn’t creating sounds we can move, chill or party to, she’s truly focused on bringing her “70’s, mob wife, glamorous aesthetic” collection to life through her luxury RTW label, MANNINO (along with LØVE MEANS NØTHING®, tennis-centric streetwear collection). Basically, this NYC, behind the decks and designing babe is everything but basic and we’re loving it. So much that we had to dig in and get more details from the lady boss doing the dang thing on both the music and design scene.
Christina Mannino, A Name to Know
From DJing to designing, Christina Mannino has us vibing to feel-good tunes and is making sure we’re well dressed at the same time. “I’m working on becoming a “name to know” in fashion—especially when everyone is ready to go glamorous and dress up again. I have an opulent, old Hollywood style: Boa’s, negligees, and silk PJ’s are a staple!”, which totally explains her unapologetic, glam interview attire and we love it. Not only can we listen to her lively playlists, but we can also lean into her “classic idea of luxury” designs. Just take a look at her refreshingly fun and stylish Instagram page @manneeni to get a glimpse of the girl boss in anything from sparkly get-ups to her own Tennis game gear.
From the Beginning
Fashion has always been part of Christina Mannino’s world, she studied the arts, and actually “just fell into DJing” in the Fall of 2011 when she left her corporate job to launch her own collection and realized “spinning and designing are such a good pairing, so here I am”. Yes, world, here she is. “Creating music mixes that inspire and create a mood, which is all connected to fashion design”. Not too shabby chic for the woman who never intended to make a career out of DJing. But hey, when you need a side hustle, you get hired at the C. Wonder store in Soho, NYC, right? It was then that Chris Burch brought Christina on to make shopping a party every weekend. “It was fun, so I spun every Saturday!”
After just a few Saturdays Chris wanted Christina on the decks at his mansion in the Hamptons for a pink party where Christina shut it down! No, literally “the authorities closed the affair after an hour due to noise—oops!”. Well, you know how the saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens. As in Christina opened up double doors into both DJing and designing. Just last year she had bookings at the US Open for players in between their training. But now, “Djing is not full time anymore, design is more of my focus.”
A Woman In a Man’s World – Hindered? Not at All!
It’s undeniable Miss Mannino is multi-talented and has a gift for storming both the music and designer industry even if both sectors are typically male-dominated. Being a female has not hindered her at all. And I do mean at all. In fact, she thinks the opposite. “I would actually get hired for gigs for fashion and beauty brands more than men because if you have good music taste and fit the brand image and can also wear the clothes, they want you even more. In my case being a woman helped because I was a good fit—female djs had started trending so men at the time were not getting as much event work.”
Ok then, let the beat drop and roll out the runway. Christina Mannino is here to stay and doesn’t plan on going anywhere, gigs or not, even while living life on lockdown! “It [the pandemic] has been twofold. My ability to grow my audience has been challenging. But the time at home has put me on pause to strengthen my brand identity. No one is going to galas or clubs so no one is wearing the type of luxury “going out” clothes I design for MANNINO right now. Most people are not spending as much as usual on fashion, but I’m excited about debuting my collection when the time comes. I’ve been able to devote a whole year and come out with a bang! It’s the roaring 20’s, people will be excited to go out again and wear fun clothes!” Absolutely agree!
Focusing On Design
Although Christina loves DJing, designing is getting more play these days. With two of Christina’s labels she founded, MANNINO, a luxury RTW collection, and LØVE MEANS NØTHING®, a tennis-centric streetwear brand, she hit the design scene unapologetically and unalike. Both brands fit either your nightlife spirit animal or your stylish tennis court slay. But more importantly and according to the designer herself, her brand brings identity and self-expression. “You have to wear what you like. I think the clothes you pick are indicative of who you think you are or who you want to be. It’s the ideal you.”
“I didn’t design it for the person who works in a finance office or chills at home. It’s more for the glamorous person who, even if you’re at home like I am now, you’re still dressing up just because. I was always connected with fashion and beauty events.
“These days, I’m really focusing on both labels, but I’m most inspired by my luxury brand, MANNINO, my dream project. Envision Pénelope Cruz in Blow: Feathers, paisley, animal prints… that’s how I like to dress in my regular life. Except, of course, when I’m playing tennis, which I fell into a few years ago. My love for the game and its historically chic outfits led me to create LØVE MEANS NØTHING®. I launched it in January last year and it has a more attainable price point than my other brand which I like—because it’s nice to make things everyone can afford that are still cool and special.”
“I would love to partner with retailers like Kirna Zabete in NYC or FWRD online, but working with a showroom to take the MANNINO collection to retail got pushed back considering the circumstances. For a luxury brand, you have to be exceptional to be noticed without PR. Thankfully, I have had time to craft my brand but I’m getting impatient for its debut. On the other hand, It’s nice because with my other brand I drop new products every 3 months, so I’ve been super busy and it all works out.”
Yes, It most certainly does (all ends up working out) especially when you’re mostly self-taught and have had internships with Anna Sui, Zac Posen, and Loeffler Randall under your belt. Christina understands that the hustle is real and despite the designer world being a bit of an expensive field to pursue, she has alligator skin and the resilience to press on, reaping what she sews (pun intended). “You have to really know this business. Handling rejection is one of my strengths and you have to have thick skin.”
“I worked with a designer before and I’m not gonna lie, I never want to work for another designer again. I don’t have a passion for picking out fabric for someone else’s vision. There’s a quote by artist Damien Hirst in which he says something like ‘the real art is the idea’. In fashion, there’s a similarity in that the Designer invents the ideas and vision—they don’t also need to do all of the sewing to be artists.
As a woman and someone inspired by my own personal style, I am my own muse.
“At one point when I worked on a former collection I had for 4 years [DEIVIE], I learned it was a big monetary investment so you really need to get it right and know when to stop. I learned so much but mostly that you need to craft and believe in your brand identity. Taking that knowledge I made sure anything I created thereafter I would be completely excited about and I’m very proud of my current brands.
“What gets you sold is having an alluring and interesting voice that excites others. Now that I’m trying to get it into retail, I know a piece shouldn’t be in the collection if I am not willing to wear it myself. As a woman and someone inspired by my own personal style, I am my own muse. Design is something I’m continuing to work on and I am excited to release more work this year as I continue to build.”
A Peek Inside the Creative & Inspiring Mind of Christina Mannino
Do you have any specific musical/designer goals for yourself in 2021?
I have a few personal goals. For LØVE MEANS NØTHING® it’s to increase brand awareness and grow my audience and direct-to-consumer product range. Once it gets out there I hope it becomes more of a name. You know a brand that’s not just for tennis lovers, but for all types of people, like NIKE.
For my RTW collection, MANNINO, I want to get into the CFDA incubator program and get mentored by Tom Ford or someone extraordinary. I want to bring an exciting, flavorful voice to American design. Like what Europe has over there because NY can be just as outlandish and theatrical.
Who is the most influential musical artist and fashion designer to you?
Recently fashion designer Alessandro Michele for Gucci has been influential with his mixable pieces that can be worn with anything (and seem timeless in their design). There’s playfulness with bold colors and he just goes for it. Really, there are so many designers I’ve obsessed over. The late Alexander McQueen and the drama and iconicism in his work. I tried to bring out my inner darkness when I had my first collection, DEIVIE, to be like him. But it didn’t fit—because that’s not my vibe. It wasn’t authentic. Gucci has a similar vibe to me.
Music inspires me as do bold frontman-like Axl Rose and Freddie Mercury… very eclectic musicians. I love intense and electronic music. Clint Mansell is dark but it’s inspiring. I constantly listen to The Prodigy’s song “Firestarter” on repeat while working, too. I’m inspired by music I can see on a runway. Almost in a Zoolander-esk parody way, very intense. I like music that’s fun and upbeat from pop to hip hop, my taste is all over the place.
What’s your go to feel good album or song?
Everything on Britney Spears Blackout album.
If you had to create a Zoom date mix, what songs would be on it?
I would recommend something similar to the “Work From Home” mix I created on my Spotify for Fresh Beauty. If you want good, chill, background music try “Don’t You Evah” by Spoon and “She Loves Everybody” by Chester French, and “Sweet Dreams” by Borns.
Any advice on staying sane and relatively positive through these times?
It’s key to take walks and get outside and even just run to the drugstore store to get a snack. If you’re not leaving the house, that’s bad! And listen to audiobooks with some type of voice around to make it seem like you’re around people.
What has been your career highlight?
It probably would be DJing, ironically. I’ve been able to play at some really cool events with iconic fashion brands but in the future, I want those parties for my own brands. I want that to flip.
Dearest Christina, we hope you never change! Thank you for your time and we’re so excited to see you continue to grow into the silk PJ’s and sweatshirt wearing, vibey music spinning, designing, bold, and badass woman you are!
For more information, updates, and vibey playlists by Christina Mannino, check out christinamannino.com.
About the Author
Jasmín (Jaz) Nelson is a true “Jazzy” of all trades. This multifaceted mom boss keeps busy as a journalist, an independent paralegal, Life Coach, photographer, and Legal/ Estate & Entertainment Industry Executive. When she finds free time, you’ll most likely spot her doing yoga and catching good vibes at the beach with her son in beautiful California.