Missoni Wool Cardigan, 1980s
I believe happiness is in the small things, those that count only for you and the people you love. - Ottavio Missoni
Index [ close ]
For the Missonis, family and culture are priceless values.
This true-born Italian high-class brand was not conceived as much from a business intuition as from a love story.
It's London in 1948 - the perfect time and scenario for falling in love. That's what happens to Ottavio, vigorous winner of several athletics competitions with a passion for reading, and Rosita, stunning heiress of a wealthy bourgeois family who own a textile company. They immediately get along, both with the heart and with the brain. They go back to Italy hand in hand and get married soon, in 1953.
Their world is in perfect balance between the individual and the couple - their relationship can't entirely express by itself the bond between such passionate and lively minds.
From the dove grey landscape of the Lombardy valley, they start approaching the idea to channel their creativity in something fresh, new and light-hearted.
From Rosita's family skills in textiles and Ottavio's cultivated, polished taste come the first sparks of colours and stripes on fabrics.
They already have Rachel, a machinery designed for weaving shawls: why use it only for this aim, they think, when they can employ it for creating clothing and knitwear?
Extending to clothing manufacturing processes that were once used only for the smallest pieces of fabric and accessories is such a simple yet exciting intuition, which ignites the two entrepreneurs' imagination.
In their nest in Gallarate, Ottavio and Rosita portray a new, creative and cheerful universe, where each pigment of colour has a tone and each tone has a shade.
Their universe is so huge that technologies and models of the time just cannot contain it: their daily life and work become a constant brainstorming aimed to continually elaborate from scratch new ways of weaving and dyeing, innovative combos and colours.
Rosita and Ottavio strongly believe in their ideas. The debut of their universe and first runway is in '67 at Palazzo Pitti, Florence, the major fashion stage at the time.
In the catwalk backstage, there's that excited chaos that typically anticipates great debuts.
Missoni's models are about to walk down the catwalk.
Rosita is staring at them - but she's not convinced. She just realised that the models' underwear is distorting the weightless perfection of the fine, thin clothes.
The time to decide whether to leave the models as they are is so little, but Rosita is a determined woman and chooses to do something that leaves everyone open-mouthed: she just leaves the models without underwear.
For the first time, models walking down the catwalk are wearing rainbow patterns and no lingerie: that's one of the first fashion and culture revolutions.
This episode gives an idea of the degree of innovation the Missonis are ready to bring to womenswear.
The most influential fashion journalists, who are used to see beautiful objects, are in love with Missoni textures and the makers of the success the brand will achieve among common people outside the fashion system. Anna Piaggi, who was then fashion editor at Arianna magazine, immediately understands Missoni's potential and does not wait much after the fashion shows to put a Missoni sweater on cover straight away.
In '68, Diana Vreeland, powerful Editor-in- Chief at Vogue, is so impressed by all those colour shades that she manages herself a meeting in New York between the Missonis and Neiman Marcus, opening the road to US markets.
Missoni style explodes like a firework during the Seventies.
It's the decade when the Missonis, who meanwhile have given birth to three kids they deeply love (Vittorio, Luca and Angela), get to know the insane happiness of a well-deserved international success, after investing so much time and heart in creating something extraordinary and long-lasting.
Day and night, winter and summer, the most classy men and women wear zig zag patterned pullovers, cardigans in wool and cotton thread, lurex fringed dresses, striped skirts and space-dyed fabrics ("space-dyeing" is a Missoni experimentation resulting from a particular technique where the fabric is dyed several times with many colours, creating unexpected shades and geometries).
Customers adore Missoni's “put-together look”, matching tones, stitches and prints daringly and tastefully, approaching getting dressed as a light-hearted game, not taking it too seriously.
Missoni has not only become a prominent and classy brand - ambassador of Made in Italy - but also a real lifestyle phenomenon.
Wearing Missoni translates into a happy, nonchalant statement towards life. Missoni fashion and lifestyle are protagonists in exhibitions and, since '83, they collaborate with the most relevant arts institutions like the Teatro La Scala in Milan for dance and opera shows costumes.
During the 1990s, Angela, Ottavio and Rosita's daughter, becomes the creative director of the company.
She has been growing up living and breathing textiles, and she's fond of beauty and artisanal quality. She shares the great responsability and pride of leading such an important brand with her siblings: Luca, taking care of the tecnical issues, and Vittorio, who was in charge of the commercial department until he disappeared in the event of an air crash in 2013. The image and ambassador of the brand, still today, is Angela's lovely, greceful daughter, Margherita (portayed by Marie Claire Italy in the picture on the left wearing vintage Missoni trousers from A.N.G.E.L.O.'s Archive).
The Missonis have a family talent for knitwear.
The brand still proudly stands out in the world of luxury, long-lasting like only the great, passionate maisons with a solid soul and brain have been able to be.
Missoni does that its way - with a discretion and elegance that do not contradict the vividness of collections but highlights them, makes the brand timeless and recognizable at a glance even without any logo.
The intertwined patterns and colours of Missoni collections narrate the little universe of an Italian family who has been working hard, with the smile and light-heartedness of artists and the dedication and foresight of entrepreneurs.
These skills are not only natural (maybe for a genetic inclination towards aesthetics), but also conveyed through an education to culture, taste and joie de vivre.
A.N.G.E.L.O. dedicates this editorial to the beautiful world of Missoni. We wanted to open for you the doors of imagination with a selection of original vintage Missoni garments, warm, classy and gorgeous. If you just can't wait to fall in love, visit our online store.
Don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter to keep you updated with fresh exciting news about new arrivals, events and informations in the vintage world.
Photo credits: Art Tribune, Missoni, Elle, Marie Claire