“My parents loved their job, they loved what they were doing, they really had a big passion for their work, but it was not their only passion. They had many other passions in life. My father liked to say that if we hadn’t have come back in we would have closed the business years ago, because he had enough to live on, he didn’t care.
He was never a businessman, and Rosita was not a business woman, but she has always been a builder. My father has always had a very different attitude, he was refusing business and the company never grew and this is why some people are amazed to see Missoni after sixty years, saying, “You are one of the older labels, why are you still so small?” Because that’s how it started; even when they had success, my father never wanted to expand. In the seventies they had many opportunities, but my father was just telling my mother, “Why do you want to work more and get more money if you don’t have time to spend it?” My father had a very Mediterranean attitude. In those years he did work a lot,and when they gave him an honour in Italy, he liked to say, joking of course, ‘You know what? You should have given this prize to my wife for making me work!’”
"My parents loved their job, they loved what they were doing, but it was not their only passion. They had many other passions in life" — Angela Missoni
Angela Missoni is part of one of Italy’s most famous fashion families. She has been creative director of the brand since 1997 – following on from her mother Rosita, co-founder of the label – and imbuing the same love of design onto her daughter Margherita, who now designs the Missoni accessories and swimwear ranges. Angela and her family are more than just the faces behind the brand though, they are all as recognisable as their signature zigzag. “I was talking to Oliviero Toscani and I was having a drink with him and all of a sudden we were talking about advertising” explains Missoni, “He said, ‘You. Your campaign should be only you.’ So when I redid the campaign with Juergen, it was to go back to the first time.”
Talking at the V&A, just before the opening of The Glamour of Italian Fashion, Angela described the inception of the iconic brand, joined by her mother and their good friend, Mrs Burnstein of Browns. Mrs. B was so taken with Angela’s retelling of the label’s history, that it bought her to reminiscing, causing a few tears from the emotive Italians. She spoke about her first memories of the Missoni label. “You were embraced into the factory as if it was a home, and it was a home. The surroundings were exquisite, it was leafy, there were trees, there were colours everywhere. I believe that Ottavio used to pick a leaf or a colour from the garden and then it would evolve into these creations and these patterns that Rosita would then do. They were the most wonderful times. Then of course there was time, we had time.”
“I say to everybody, if you own a piece of Missoni, treasure it because it is exquisite. All the love of the family and the heritage, this is what has gone into it, has gone into this creation of Missoni. I am so privileged to have known the family all these years.” It seems impossible to encapsulate Missoni in better words.
Text by Rosie Neve