Missoni. It’s a story of love,
vision, and color; a union of creative minds and unrelenting spirits.
Without Missoni, Italian fashion—and that of the world—may have never
known the artistry of vibrant patterns brought to life in
kaleidoscope-like knitwear. Ottavio and Rosita Missoni not only set out
to change the fashion world, but also created art by experimenting with
unconventional fabrics like rayon viscose and reinterpreting
traditional uses of the Rachel machine, which was originally only
utilized for making shawls. Written In the Stars It was 1948 when Rosita Jelmini and Ottavio Missoni met by chance at Wembley Stadium during the London Olympics. She had traveled to the U.K. to perfect her study of the English language. Ottavio had designed wool tracksuits for the Italian Olympic team and was also in town to participate with the Italian National Track Team himself. One could say the two were destined to meet, and by some divine intervention they did. The rest is history. Five years later they were married at Golasecca, a village near the Ticino River in the province of Varese, Italy. That very same year the two set up their own small knitwear workshop in their basement, continuing an enterprise that Ottavio had begun in Trieste a year before the couple met.
An Outburst of Color Born in 1953, it was only a few years before the visionary Missoni brand was on the map, gracing the pages of fashion magazines by 1960. The family-run business set trends in the creation of knit-wear and cemented its niche in colorful designs that were ahead of their time. Heavily influenced by folk art, artisans Rosita and Ottavio used a multitude of shades, fabrics, textures, and patterns to produce ready-to-wear sweaters, skirts, dresses, and jackets. Innovative and eccentric stripes, zigzags, wave designs with flame effects, geometrics, and florals were intrin-sically woven into the brand’s products. This exquisite blend of metaphorical and abstract motifs were inspired by nature, architecture, and various cultures.
Perfecting an Art Ottavio’s masterpieces garnered much acclaim, including comparisons to contemporary works of art, which later resulted in an exhibition of Missoni Patchwork at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York 1973. It wasn’t long before the brand’s first collection of household linens was launched. The secret to Missoni’s success is perhaps the fact that instead of changing the style with every season as most fashion designers do, Rosita and Ottavio created a tech-nique that they constantly worked to improve. And year after year they came out with more powerful colors than before. Even though their creations were dubbed as “museum pieces,” they maintained a wearable quality that reflected imagination and an air of simplicity.
Beyond Knits Tapestries, men’s clothing, fragrances, jewelry, shoes, handbags, belts, hosiery, swimwear, eyewear, and sunwear have since been added to the brand. Today the couple’s children run the company. Their daughter Angela is the Creative Director while sons Luca and Vittorio oversee the business. Missoni’s brilliant hues and patterns are clearly the inspiration for the sunwear collection’s design. Stripes, colors, and motifs from the knitwear are translated into the vintage-shaped frames in shades of summer skies to burgundy/lilac/ chocolate streaks. Warm tones are hidden behind tortoiseshell fronts or burst onto temples and endpieces flaunting a contrast of colors. Swarovski crystals form geometric sequences that are reminiscent of the brand. Rounded silhouettes are accented by black and white solids, while shaded lenses mask the eyes of the Missoni woman—the eternal muse for this collection.