The story of Missoni begins in 1953 when Ottavio Missoni and his wife Rosita Jelmini create a small workshop in their home in Gallarate where the unmistakable colorful knitwear is born and so they found the company that will revolutionize knitwear made in Italy.
Ottavio, Italian athletics champion in the 400 meters, already owned a business dedicated to the production of sports suits while Rosita had developed experience in the production of household linen and shawls in the family company. They combined their skills to look for something completely new and in 1958 the first Milano-Simpathy collection was presented in Milan, which immediately received orders from none other than La Rinascente. The publisher Anna Piaggi was among the first to notice the potential of the collections so much so that in 1967 the brand was featured on the cover of the magazine Arianna by Arnoldo Mondadori Editore.
It was in 1967 that Missoni made her debut at the Pitti Palace in Florence, where she caused a scandal by showing the models without a bra, thus revealing her breasts in the most transparent dresses. This only increased the success of the brand that in 1969 opened a new headquarters in Sumirago and in 1970, became the absolute protagonist of the largest fashion magazines from Paris to the United States, with the support of Diana Vreeland director of Vogue.
Bloomingdale’s New York office opens a Missoni store, the brand gets a great international success, is acclaimed by all the press and Missoni garments are desired by the biggest fashion retailers.
Missons and the “put-together”
The great ingenuity of its founders brings into the knitwear something never seen before: the processing “put-together”, or the creation of garments in knitwear with patterns and colors that are a unique mix. The result is a game of geometric patterns, such as the famous zigzag, in an infinity of different colors.
The “put-together” has now become the hallmark of the brand, which makes a Missoni garment immediately recognizable and inimitable. Clothing is a mix of textures, materials and graphics: from patchwork to stripes, from bright shades to black and white. In any case, the materials, whether wool, cotton or lamé are always the protagonists.
In 1976 he opened the first flagship store in Milan, followed by those in Paris, New York and many others. For the 25th anniversary of the brand is organized a retrospective at the Rotonda della Besana in Milan and followed by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. In addition to clothing, one of the strengths of the brand is definitely swimwear; moreover, since the mid-70s, have been created the collections dedicated to household linen and furniture and in 1998 was born the second line M Missoni.
Craftsmanship and family
Since the foundation has remained a family business, in 1997 the management passed to the sons of Ottavio and Rosita: Angela Missoni as artistic director; Vittorio Missoni, who died prematurely from an airplane accident in 2013, as sales manager; Luca Missoni, technical manager; his niece Margherita Missoni, daughter of Angela, follows the creative part and is ambassador of the brand.
In 2001, Luca Missoni also created his first men’s collection. Despite the huge expansion of the business, Missoni continues to emphasize the values of the family and craftsmanship made in Italy. The house’s 50th anniversary is celebrated in 2003 with an epic fashion show of more than 100 archival models. Archivio Missoni is still a reference point not only for knowing the history of the brand but also for the realization of projects and artistic events.
Since 2007, the company has started a process of transformation at management level, but keeping the members of the family on the Board of Directors. Since 2018 the brand has been part of the Italian Strategic Fund and since 2022 the new creative director is Filippo Grazioli, for both men’s and women’s collections. Missoni has always stood out for the excellence of materials and knitwear with unique patterns; the zig-zag pattern, at the time a symbol of modernism, has now become a true icon of the history of fashion.