The Zigzag Knit Dress from Missoni’s Very First Fashion Show

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Archive 1966 zigzag and cotton dress by MissoniPhotography by Chris Rhodes, Styling by Chloe Grace Press

Pioneering its now signature style, this multicoloured knit dress was first shown in 1966 and remains markedly modern, writes Alexander Fury

Although Missoni celebrates its 65th anniversary this year, the first of the family’s now-trademark knits, a kaleidoscope of shades, actually only emerged in 1966. A co-labelled collaboration with the Paris-based designer Emmanuelle Khanh, the first Missoni zigzag melange dress was created on rediscovered archive Raschel machines, which produce a fabric that is halfway between knit and weave. These were generally used to create sheer black shawls, often worn by widows in southern Italy, but the label’s founders, Tai and Rosita Missoni, used a different-hued yarn along each line, creating a new type of multicoloured knit fabric that had never been seen before. This dress was originally presented in the first Missoni fashion show, held at a tiny Milanese theatre, the Teatro Gerolamo. A Sixties-style ‘happening’, rather than a conventional fashion show, it was staged with a white canvas at the back, through which the shadows of changing models could be seen. At the end of the show, the Italian artist Luciano Fontana was to slit the canvas in his signature style to release the models. But Fontana, somehow, bailed – instead, Tai Missoni cut the scrim himself. But like Fontana’s work, those Missoni dresses – with their oft-imitated fabrication – endure as examples of the markedly modern. 

Set design: Amy Stickland at Webber. Lighting: Emma Ercolani. Photographic assistant: Fuminori Homma. Styling assistants: Charis Lorraine and Benedetta Baruffi. Set-design assistant: Nienta Nixon. Production: Webber. Post-production: D-Touch Studio.

This story originally featured in the Autumn/Winter 2018 issue of AnOther Magazine which is on sale internationally now.