Versace, Dolce and Gabbana, even Gucci (which arguably tried to get out of Italy more than it tried to build an industry there) are all great, but the brand that put Italy on the map as a global fashion center was Missoni.
The short and sweet of the Missoni aesthetic: Knits, zig-zags, and kaleidoscopic bold colors.
The brand was born under the former Olympic hurdler Ottavio Missoni and his wife, Rosita (née Jelmini). But the duo’s interest in clothing design can be attributed to earlier experiences, respectively.
Ottavio, who served as an infantryman in World War II (at one point, he was captured by the British in North Africa and kept in a British POW camp until the war’s end,) came back to partner with his former track-and-field teammate Giorgio Oberweger to create a line of activewear. With a focus on wool tracksuits, Ottavio is credited as the inventor of leg zippers on track pants.
Rosita was the daughter of parents in the business of making shawls.
Their experiences combined, Ottavio and Rosita began to make a line of knitwear manufactured with the machinery used to make shawls, which they discovered to yield surprisingly light-weight garments.
The brand came out with its first official line in 1958, but it wasn’t until 1967 that Missoni became the Italian name that everyone was talking about. That year, the brand gave its first runway show at the famous palace-turned-museum Palazzo Pitti in Florence. There, in the Palazzo’s Sala Bianca [white room], the Missoni models wore no underwear, and under the lights of the catwalk, their clothes became transparent.
They were not invited back to the Palazzo the next year, but sensationalism carried the brand, with it’s motto of “Made in Italy,” to new heights. Italy went from an exporter of talent to its own fashion destination.
Flash forward to Missoni’s 2017 Spring Ready-To-Wear. Angela Missoni, daughter of Ottavio and Rosita and the brand’s current creative director, must have inherited her parents’ creative instinct. This collection has all the feeling of peeling off winter layers to reveal shear, breathable floor length knits alongside dresses so short, they’ll make you attempt to suck in your pelvis.
In my opinion, Missoni is consistently a breath of fresh air in a fashion landscape that lately seem supersaturated (or maybe, in this case, sub-saturated) with pastels, faded lines, blur.
Missoni is crisp in its lines, rich in its blues, yellows, corals and pistachio greens, and I’d almost like to say “crunchy” in its textures, but I know that it is doubtful they are anything but luxuriously soft to the touch. Combined with the minimalist, sunny make up used on the models, I just want this line to take me on whatever vacation it’s going on.
Missoni is like a good fennel and blood orange salad on the first warm day of the year, which is, incidentally, a day I am consistently trying to summon. Maybe there’s some connection.