Missoni is an Italian fashion house based in Milan. It is famous for its unique knitwear, made in a variety of patterns; stripes, abstract florals and geometrics and are also known for their use of many different fabrics such as cotton, linen, rayon and silk. The company was founded by Ottavio (“Tai”) and Rosita Missoni in 1953.
Tai Missoni was born in 1921 in Dubrovnik (then part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes) and formerly known as Ragusa. After WWII, Vittorio Missoni (father of Tai Missoni) set up a workshop with his friend Giorgio Oberweger, making wool track-suits. The Italian team at the 1948 Olympics in London adopted his “Venjulia” tracksuits. Tai, who had qualified himself for the final of the 400m hurdle race at these Olympics, met his future wife Rosita Jelmini (daughter of a family of shawl makers in Golasecca in the province of Varese) at Wembley.
Tai and Rosita set up a small knitwear shop in Gallarate after they married in April 1953. They presented their first collection; Milano-Simpathy in Milan in 1958. This was the first collection to have the Missoni label. With the help of legendary editor Anna Piaggi, the business prospered. Rosita met the French stylist Emmanuelle Kahn in 1965 whilst on a trip to New York, which led to a collaboration and a radical new collection the following year. Their fame was assured in April 1967, when they were invited to show at the Pitti Palace in Florence. The show caused a sensation when Rosita told the models to remove their bras, supposedly because they were the wrong colour and showed through the thin lamé blouses and the material became transparent under the lights! Even though The Missonis never received an invite the following year their business continued to go from strength to strength, and a new factory was built in Sumirago in 1969. With write-ups from editor Diana Vreeland, US Vogue Magazine, The Missonis opened their first boutique there inside Bloomingdales.
Missoni influence on the fashion world reached its peak in the 1970’s. Tai Missoni then became more interested in other projects, everything from designing costumes for La Scala, to designing carpets and tapestries. Rosita has admitted that in the 1990s she lost interest in fashion, before handing over to her daughter Angela in 1998. Rosita now is responsible for overseeing the design of all home projects.