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homage to missoni

February 10, 2012

When I was 15 years old, i spent a weekend with my father in switzerland. On a shopping trip he took me to a missoni boutique and bought me a blazer, cardigan and scarf. I immediately fell in love with their knitwear designs. There is no doubt in my mind that this first encounter, over 30 years ago, has greatly influenced my use and views on colour, patterns and generally the way i look at fashion, interiors and design. It certainly left an everlasting imprint on me.

This is the cardigan i bought over 30 years ago. I last wore it about a week ago. It hasn’t dated right?

Breathtaking patterns and imagery on knitwear.

Does this look like a scarf bought in the early 80’s? Could be the latest season’s design?

The story of rosita and ottavio (tai) missoni began at the 1948 london olympics. Ottavio, a member of the italian olympic team, designed the uniforms for his team mates that year. Rosita, who was born into an italian family of shawl and embroidered fabric producers saw him run the 400m hurdle race. They fell in love and started the missoni dynasty in 1953, the same year they got married.

Their humble beginnings consisted of a small workshop where they created art; the only possible way to describe their early knitwear designs. Taking much of their inspiration from folk art, the missonis were primarily known for their innovative use of knits and patterns. Most recognisable among these is the missoni zigzag but the label also plays with stripes, geometrics and abstract florals. Missoni uses a myriad of colours in their fabrics but avoids any jarring notes by using similar tones. The company is also known for its intelligent use of a variety of different fabrics such as rayon, silk, cotton and wool and for its innovative knitting techniques.

The missonis used great imagination for their creations, separating them apart from the old-fashioned ways of traditional hand knitted items and the often blandness of machine knitted products. Their biggest asset is their supremacy of design, mixing traditional italian skills with modern technology. Missoni still has its own factory in italy where they create their signature knits. It takes around 2-3 hours to make one meter of fabric which can contain over 20 different colours in each design.

Missoni does not rely on fashion trends but instead uses their natural talent for italian flair and style. They have been quoted saying: ‘our philosophy since we went into business has been that a piece of clothing should be like a work of art. It should not be bought for a special occasion or because it’s in fashion, but because a woman likes it…..and feels she could wear it forever.’

In 1997, after over 40 years, rosita missoni stepped down as head of the knitwear lineBeing a family run business, the three children of the founders have taken reign of the business. Angela missoni is creative director of the woman’s wear collection. Luca missoni is responsible for the design of the menswear collection and vittorio missoni is marketing director. Recently, margherita missoni, angela’s daughter, has joined the business and is hailed as angela’s next successor.

In 2003, the missoni phenomenon celebrated 50 years in business with a catwalk event at the v&a in london, as part of their fashion in motion series. I was lucky to have obtained a ticket for this much sought after event. They were showing their key pieces for each year since their inception in 1953. Honestly, not one outfit had dated and all would be fashionable today. Total magic and utter genius!

In 2004 rosita missoni, not one for retirement, launched the missoni homeware collection which has been a massive hit. In 2009 rosita oversaw the opening of the first hotel missoni, in edinburgh. I was ecstatic that this coincided with my trip to the edingburgh festival and so celebrated my birthday in missoni heaven.  A second hotel, in kuwait, is due to open in March, and she has three more luxury boutique hotels—in oman, brazil and turkey—in the planning. Not bad for a 79 year old lady!

I love going to art galleries and exhibitions. Sometimes i am left speechless and one such time was when visiting the incredible: workshop missoni – daring to be different at the estorick collection of modern italian art back in 2009. Curated by luca missoni, rather than focusing on finished products, the exhibition took the viewer ‘behind the scenes’ of missoni, exploring the technical working processes involved in the production of their fabrics and clothing and revealing their underlying sources of inspiration – including the fine arts.

Here are some pages from my own copy, but you can still buy it from here

In late 2011 missoni collaborated with target. It was, on one hand, a huge success and equally a total internet-crash fiasco.

I want to leave you with snippets of my own home project. Here below, in my living room, i’ve used the missoni fabric range: neuchatel. When it came to doing the bathroom i wanted to paint stripes, so decided to take a sample of the missoni fabric and ask the nice people of oliver paint in portobello to hand mix me the colours. They did an incredible job but unfortunately they are no longer in business.

Meanwhile, I spent a few days on the computer working out colour dimensions, proportions and how it would work best in that space.

This is a section of the finished bathroom. Who has spotted the missoni bath mat?

My dream came true when on 27 january 2012 i was in the audience in the v&a auditorium, as part of the peroni collaborazioni talks, listening to angela missoni in conversation with renowned fashion journalist gianluca long. Angela allowed a rare insight into what it’s like working for such an iconic family firm. The talk addressed her forecast for the future of italian fashion and her thoughts on the new designers and fashion houses that might shape that future.

My highlight was to be able to go up to angela afterwards and tell her of my longstanding love affair with missoni and thank her for the continued inspiration. Grazie mille!

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26 Comments

  • Reply Toni February 11, 2012 at 8:07 am

    I can totally see why you love Missoni so much! You are SO well suited, both very colourful and with a huge personality to match!

    • Reply tina February 11, 2012 at 8:13 am

      Ha. Not very ‘Nordic’ right?

      Thank you, I’ll take this as a huge compliment:)

  • Reply Holly February 11, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Tina! This is such a GREAT post – informative, passionate, just such a pleasure to read. Missoni is really cool, I’m glad to learn more about it here. Happy weekend Xx.

    • Reply tina February 11, 2012 at 10:14 am

      @Holly Ah, thanks. In the V&A talk, Angela Missoni said that before they collaborated with Target, not many Americans knew who Missoni were. After Target, everyone knows about us’. I’m happy you like them and thank you for your support!

      As you know I love your RFF series, especially the investigation of the colour red. No surprise there, right?

      @Heather Thanks Heather. You know I wore the cardigan to our last meet up at the V&A Reading rooms. ( proof is on our facebook page:) That week I had the pleasure to hear Angela Missoni talk so felt inspired and in a Missoni mood. You would have loved the fashion retrospective…. with your figure you could wear every single piece and look stunning!

  • Reply Heather @ Canal Notes February 11, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Fantastic post! I love that you’ve kept your first Missoni treasures for 30 years, and even better that you’re still wearing them – a testament to the lasting impact that fashion can have 🙂

  • Reply ursula (room to bloom) February 11, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Can I just add that your bathroom kicks *ss!

    • Reply tina February 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm

      Ha Ha. Thank you. The funny thing was that my builder refused to paint over the ‘new’ radiator. I had to force his hand:)

  • Reply Laura February 11, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Your living room space looks so relaxing, I love it. What an interesting post too.

    • Reply tina February 11, 2012 at 11:04 pm

      Thanks:) Yes, my flat was designed to chill out in. I know the post is a bit long but tried to condense as much as possible and still tell the story.

      I am still eating the choc nibs with my porridge and thinking of you:)

  • Reply Catherine Bedson February 12, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Hi Tina,
    I have always loved Missoni as well so really enjoyed your post. How special that your dad took you to a boutique and bought you a blazer, cardigan & scarf. Your living room looks amazing so colourful..a great room to chill out in.

    • Reply tina February 12, 2012 at 9:15 am

      Hi Catherine. Another Missoni fan yeah! This post was quite personal in so many ways, so thank you.

      When I went to buy my sofa (not in picture) from a friend’s shop in Germany, he could see how unexcited I was about the 400 fabric swatches he showed me. As he had good relations with the manufacturers in Italy, as a special favour to me, he told me to go and choose any fabric I wanted and he would send it to Italy to be made up.

      On the plane journey back to London I asked myself: if I could have anything what do I really want? Well, we know the answer. Another reason it was all so special to me:)

  • Reply Beth February 12, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Oh Tina I love your house! So bold and full of life – reflects you beautifully. You know I share a love of Missoni. I will bring along something from my collection the next time we meet. Thanks for sharing this informative and delightful post. x, Beth

    • Reply tina February 12, 2012 at 3:19 pm

      Beth, you are so lovely, thank you. Yes, of course I know you share my love for Missoni. I’d love to see some of your collection. I bet it all looks wonderful on you:) x

  • Reply Erin February 12, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    WOW. I’m in awe of your bathroom. Clearly you’re well suited towards color in a way I’ll never be, but that bathroom (and your lush living room!) look so incredibly cheerful and unique. What a great story, it totally came full circle: you as a little girl with your dad in the Missoni boutique, and then meeting Angela Missoni years later. Were you wearing your scarf or cardigan? You’re right, neither of them look dated in the slightest.

    I attempted to browse the Missoni/Target collaboration with some girlfriends before work on the morning it opened, but by the time we got to the store (15 minutes after it had opened) the entire collection had been ransacked by this one, insane girl who had hoarded every single item into two carts, which she was manning furiously. I actually got into a verbal altercation with her. She had just run around the store and pushed everything into her cart: 4 lamps, 10 pieces of luggage, every shirt in every size, every last picture frame. She wasn’t even going to keep all of it, but was planning on selling it on eBay after she left the store. I only managed to find one lone makeup bag on an empty display! So it was equally as much a real life fiasco as an internet fiasco.

    • Reply tina February 12, 2012 at 6:37 pm

      Colour is in my blood. Thank you love.

      Can you believe I wasn’t wearing my older Missoni pieces when meeting Angela? I noticed other women were wearing their Missoni gear. Just shows I’m not really a groupie.

      My post was so long that towards the end I just mentioned the target internet fiasco. Of course I know that target shops were totally overwhelmed and that girl you mentioned sounds just like what we get here too.

      When places like H&M do collaborations with brands you always have these girls storming the shops early, buying up everything in order to sell it on ebay. Personally, I think they should introduce a limit for everyone who purchases items but hey, who am I right?

      So sorry to hear you had bad luck at the store and only got a makeup bag. I hope this hasn’t put you off Missoni:)

      One day, maybe the Pia Posse will lounge in my space. Would be fun, no?

  • Reply Jennifer February 13, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Tina – I too have LOVED Missoni since I was a kid. On my first trip to Italy in 2001 I bought a Missoni scarf and that was the beginning..I recently put up drapes in my dining room in a flamestitch pattern that remind me of collections past. Thank you for giving us all a history of the company. What a treat to get to meet Angela – sounds like such a fun evening! I also heart Margherita Missoni and her bohemian, effortless style always inspires me.

    • Reply tina February 13, 2012 at 4:21 pm

      Another Missoni fan…. hurray!!

      Love the sound of the drapes in the dining room.

      You know, originally that talk was meant to be with Angela and Margherita. A few days before the event, the ticket holders were sent an email stating that Margherita won’t be joining. We never found out why. It’s a shame because it would have been even more interesting.

      I also LOVE her bohemian, effortless style. She is stunning!

  • Reply Chi @ Carousel February 13, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    I enjoyed reading this, Tina! Such great insights into an iconic brand and how it shaped your aesthetic. I ADORE your cosy, vibrant nook, too.

    I’m shockingly (or should that be fashionably?!) late to the Missoni party, I know, but I’ve recently begun to covet some of their wares.

    Colour is such a great elixir, don’t you agree? Not to mention the perfect antidote to the dreary weather we’ve been having lately.

    I love that it’s always spring where you live – what fun! 😀

    • Reply tina February 13, 2012 at 10:49 pm

      @Chi Thanks love…. it is indeed an iconic brand and I love that it stands the test of time.

      I bet you would look fantastic in their clothes. They have quite a few different diffusion lines for different budgets. For example, the M Missoni diffusion line is more affordable, yet still luxurious. They have a shop with this line in Westfield London ( in the village part of it ).

      Have a look at this: http://www.trendhunter.com/slideshow/missoni#7

      Colour is hugely important to me. It evokes energy, passion and puts me in a good mood. That’s how I designed my flat:) It’s quite difficult to get depressed here…

      Thanks for your lovely comment x

      @Theresa Btw, some of my friends call me T, so when you get called T it’s sometimes strange:)

      The genius of Missoni is how they involve the family in their ad campaigns. Since Margherita came on board she has been a fantastic ambassador for the brand. She is young, hip and naturally stylish and I see them going from strength to strength.

      Angela is also very young at heart and wants to take the company into the 21st century. They are a great team.

      I love patterns and of course, as a designer I have an advantage. But, am sure my knowledge and skills have been inspired by my long love affair with Missoni, who I regard as the colour gurus of all times. Thanks:)

  • Reply Theresa February 13, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    What a great post, Tina. You can tell a lot of passion and time went into it. I love that you have such a deep love and great memories associated with Missoni. Don’t even get me started on Margherita…She has amazing style!
    You were right, you know how to beautifully mix patterns. I love your living room and striped walls!

  • Reply Lauren February 14, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    I just love the story of your relationship to Missoni. I think though, that I love your house even more!

    • Reply tina February 14, 2012 at 7:44 pm

      Thanks Lauren:)

  • Reply annie February 17, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    I LOVE missoni. I have a Missoni pixel throw on my bed – I guess none of you Pias spotted that in Erin’s awesome handbag post!!! I also bought M by Missoni purple scarf with silver glitter this year which I love to bits and it’s the warmest thing I own.

    Great post Tina, I didn’t know a lot of that. And your bathroom is amazing, I didn’t even notice the radiator at first!

    • Reply tina February 17, 2012 at 7:07 pm

      Thanks Annie. Must re-visit Erin’s handbag post.

  • Reply Sophie February 22, 2012 at 12:37 am

    Brilliant personal but informative post Tina. I’ve learnt an awful lot about Missoni but also about yourself from reading it, I like how you’ve tied everything together so well. I must admit I didn’t know much about Missoni other than the name as an iconic brand, so I’m glad I feel more clued up now 🙂

    I normally couldn’t handle such strong colours myself, but your living room actually looks like a really relaxing place to be.

    • Reply tina February 22, 2012 at 12:49 am

      Have you not read my blog at all lately? You are so sweet to comment on every post, but was sure you have commented recently, no??

      I am so please you said that. I do try and make my post informative but also personal and sometimes I wonder whether I get the balance right!

      That’s the beauty of blogging. We can read snippets and yet have a fairly good picture of a subject matter.

      I know, not everyone likes this much colour but actually if you would see it it isn’t so bad because I have a lot of white to balance it out. It is relaxing and cosy, that’s how I designed it:) Thank you for your nice comment.

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