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History of the Classics: Missoni

Missoni is an  Italian fashion house based in Varese , known for its  original knitwear designs in colourful patterns. The company was founded by Ottavio and Rosita Missoni in 1953 .

It started after war when Ottavio’s father set up a workshop , making wool track suits which were adopted by the Italian team at the 1948 london Olympics … Ottavo himself qualified for the for the final of the 400 meter hurdle race !  At Wembley he met his future wife Rosita Jelmini, daughter of a family of shawl makers living in the province of Varese.

In 1958 they presented in Milan their first collection, called Milano-Simpathy, which was the first to bear the Missoni label.

Their fame was assured in April 1967, when they were invited to exhibit their collection at the Pitti Palace in Florence. Rosita Missoni told the models to remove their bras, supposedly because they were the wrong colour and showed through the thin lamé blouses.The material became transparent under the lights and caused a sensation.With their designs being championed in the US by Diana Vreeland, editor of Vogue magazine, the Missonis opened their first boutique in N.Y. inside Bloomingdales department store.

The three children of the founders play a large part in the business. Vittorio (born 1954) is the Marketing Director, Luca (born 1956) was responsible for the design of the menswear collection through to the Spring/Summer 2008 collection. Angela (born 1958) was only the womenswear designer but took over menswear beginning with the Fall/Winter 2008/2009 collection. Luca in turn became the head Creative Director/Director of the company from then on.

Missoni knitwear is known for its multitude of patterns such as stripes, geometrics, and abstract florals, in a kaleidoscope of colours. They are also known for the liberal use of many different fabrics such as wool, cotton, linen, rayon and silk.

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