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Patriarch of fashion brand Missoni dies in Italy

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 9, 2013 at 2:03 pm •  Published: May 9, 2013
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The criticism wasn't shared, and the Missoni brand gained quick popularity with its original striped and zig-zag patterns.

The company expanded, eventually constructing its main factory in Sumirago. But the philosophy of applying an artisan's eye to detail and precision continued to shape its fashion output, on the runways of Milan and in stores worldwide as the brand went global.

The Missonis, who often wore their own creations in everyday life, first showed their collection in Milan in 1966. The next year, a show in Florence of transparent tops sparked outrage, but they were ahead of a fashion trend that would later be picked up by no one less than Yves Saint Laurent, before spreading.

Missoni wrote later that his wife discovered just before the models were to go down the runway at the Pitti Palace that they had forgotten garments that we supposed to be worn under the sheer lame blouses.

"So, she sent them out without bras, and the lights made them transparent. The indulgent smiles and delight of the buyers and the guests contrasted with the protests of the organizers: 'What do they think, that Pitti Palace is the Crazy Horse cabaret?' And we weren't invited to the next shows," he wrote.

But the Missonis had their revenge, creating a literal and figurative splash in Milan the next year when a poolside show ended with everyone in the water.

Missoni recalled that the brand first caught the eye of fashion writers when Anna Piaggi wrote about it for a monthly printed by Mondadori publishing house in 1965. But soon, Missoni was spread across every major fashion magazine from Elle to Vogue, featured in The New York Times and lionized by Women's Wear Daily.

The brand opened its first boutique in the United States in 1970, and by the end of the decade Missoni knitwear was a must-have for the well-heeled. The media dubbed Missoni "the new status symbol of Italian design."

The brand's appeal in the United States has hardly cooled. In 2011, demand was so high for a Missoni limited edition line for Target that the retailer's website crashed.

Missoni's signature fashions have a reputation for wearability and for surviving many seasons of changing trends. Among the exhibits honoring the company was one by the Whitney Museum in New York. New York's Metropolitan Museum has also showcased Missoni creations. The house also has designed costumes for a production of "Lucia di Lammermoor" at La Scala starring Luciano Pavarotti and Luciana Serra.

Ottavio and Rosita turned over the business to their children in 1997. Missoni wrote that "it was time for a change" and that all three children had already "freely and spontaneously" inserted themselves into the company.

The couple's daughter, Angela, is the creative director, while their third child, Luca, has a technical role. The family won the admiration of the fashion community for their perseverance when they went on with their January menswear show just days after Vittorio went missing.

The fashion dynasty is expanding, too: Ottavio and Rosita's granddaughter, Margherita, has promoted Missoni perfume and starred in advertising campaigns.

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D'Emilio and AP Fashion Writer Daniela Petroff contributed from Rome.