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Angela Missoni Marks 20 Years

January 31, 2018

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I became interested in Missoni when I read a laudatory piece in Bazaar’s January 2018 issue written by Joan Juliet Buck. I had read her memoir, The Price of Illusion, and was quite impressed, so I sat down at once and read A Colorful Yarn – which reported, in detail, her ties to Missoni.

A creative shot in the Missoni catalog

She relates, “I have been in thrall to the family from the first time I saw a Missoni pullover in a magazine in 1967. Every possible color was joined into a lacy motif. This pullover proved that fashion could bend toward joy. I was a goner.” Her descriptions of the Missoni fashions over the years peaked my interest so I decided to read more about the history of this famous Italian brand.

HOW IT ALL BEGAN

The company has grown from very modest beginnings. It began in 1953 by Ottavio and Rosita Missoni as a knitwear workshop in the basement of their home located in Gallarate, Lombardy (northern Italy).

Rosita had unearthed a batch of 1930s yarns in her family’s factory where kimonos and embroidery had been made for generations. She also discovered knitting machines that made an endless variety of colors and patterns. The unique Missoni knit was born and has since become the byword for one-of-a-kind affluence.

A “WOW” SHOW THAT ROCKED

They presented their first collection in Milan in 1958. Then in 1967 they were invited to show at the Pitti Palace in Florence. The creative director, Rosita, told the models to remove their bras because they were the wrong color and showed through the thin lamé blouses. The material became transparent under the lights. They were not invited back. Business boomed.

GLOBAL GROWTH FROM ITALY

In 1968 the Missoni family built a factory that remains the company’s only one in spite of growing into a $200 million empire. In the age of the fashion conglomerate, it remains both profitable and a family affair.

The key world here is “family.”

The Missoni family in 1992: Angela on the left, her father, Ottavio, and mother, Rosita, on the right. Photo: courtesy of Missoni catalog

In 1997 Angela Missoni, who is Rosita’s daughter, took on the title of creative director for her mother. She has three children: Margherita, Teresa, Franesco and a partner, Bruno Ragazzi.

Rosita has turned her attention to MissoniHome while Angela has done a spectacular job of recreating and updating the Missoni brand for today’s market. At her 20th Anniversary collection for Spring 2018 an audience of almost 1,000 cheered as she took her victory lap. To end on a high note, there was a dinner for 200 friends and family after the show. 

 

I love this exuberant fabric – great for cushions. Angela has it in her home 

Photo: courtesy of Missoni catalog

UP CLOSE AT MISSONI IN NYC

On a wintery day in December I decided to visit the Missoni shop on Madison Avenue at 78th Street. The background is restrained: plain white walls, beige carpeting with mirrors across the rear of the store. This sets off the explosion of color and patterns that the brand is built on. It all looks spectacular – with prices to match.

The 2017 Winter Sale had just kicked off so the first thing I looked at was an out-of-this-world fur coat made with many different colors: $39,000 – marked down to $19,000. An auspicious beginning because everything I looked at, on sale or not, had a jaw-dropping price.

The range of Missoni products amazed me, I had no idea they had apparel for women, men and children plus accessories (scarves, gloves, hats) shoes, handbags, totes, jewelry, bed linens, towels, cushions, candles, luggage – the list is endless.

OBSERVATION: I have 20 magazine subscriptions and there is NOT ONE AD in any of them for Missoni. What gives?

Shaun Nelson-Henrick



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