Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The magic of Missoni

Hi all,

Today I posted a Missoni dress to my site that I have been holding on to for a year. It took me that long to let it go. I had to hold on to it for a while...because I really love Missoni and very seldom do I find it and I just liked having it in my possession.

Compared to the rest of what we know as "status fashion", the Missoni label has a unique history, not your typical haute couture story. It's roots are in the world of sports wear and knitting mills. Husband and wife design team Ottavio Missoni and Rosita Jelmini Missoni are the founders and while I was researching I read some interesting tidbits about the history of the company. I'll share a couple of the highlights...

Before Ottavio met Rosita he was was an accomplished athlete as well as a partner in a small sports, knit wear company. In 1948, the same year he went to London to compete in the 400 meter hurdles, his company designed the Italian Olympic teams track suits. Rosita had a textile background as well, along with an eye for design and skill in the sewing arts. They married in 1953 and set up a small knitwear workshop.

In the beginning they sold their pieces to other designers. In 1958 they presented their first collection in Milan which they called Milano-Simpathy. Since it's heyday in the 20s and 30s, fine knitwear had fallen out of favor and the public was not accustomed to associating it with high fashion. The Missoni's colorful designs and unique patterns were not immediately embraced and it took a while but in 1966 Italian journalist, Anna Piaggi began celebrating their work in her articles. By 1967 they were well on their way when an incident of "scandal" catapulted them into the limelight. At a showing in Florence, Rosita was unhappy with the way her models bras interfered with look of her creations, so she had them walk the runway bra less....bright lights and filmy fabric....well you know, and being the 1960s the response was total shock. Whats that old saying...any press is good press? and in this case it was very good.

Missoni has seen the ups and downs of any great name but one thing no one can argue is the eternal appeal of their designs. Very few designers can boast that their garments never go out of style and I honestly believe this to be true of iconic Missoni. Their knits borrow from tradition but transform into unique fabric creations. The colors they use transcend trend and their silhouettes are simple exercises in flattering drape. Although some Missoni pieces have been and continue to be dramatic, most are easy to combine with most any wardrobe. On the Fashion Encyclopedia website I read a quote by Rosita Missoni as told to Elsa Klensch, writing for the New York Post (24 May 1978), "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."

What a wonderful philosophy.

Till next time, take care and best to you all.


  1. love the colors of this knit dress!!

  2. Great post, Melody. I love how the company has its roots in the sports clothing business.

  3. HI- I just came to your blog & I loved the description of your experience in the NY & Chicago shows - I could feel the pulse beating. It reminded me of my own days when I used to have a stall selling trinkets... Markets are such adorable places whether you're buying or selling.

  4. I would have a hard time letting anything from Missoni go too- I've never had any but wish I could make that happy discovery!
    Marie @ Lemondrop ViNtAge
    Charmed giveaway!