LONDON.-The Estorick Collection is delighted to be hosting an exhibition focusing on the iconic Italian fashion house Missoni from 1 July to 20 September 2009 at 39a Canonbury Square, London N1. A pioneer of the aesthetic and technical innovations that forever changed the face of knitwear, Missoni is one of the world’s most recognisable modern fashion brands, with a distinctive style marked by the complex combination of different shades, textures and patterns.
The Missoni style has evolved out of a long-standing collaboration between the husband and wife team of Ottavio and Rosita Missoni. In the late 1940s, Ottavio Missoni established a workshop producing jersey tracksuits that were also sported by the Italian Athletic Team at the 1948 London Olympics, where Ottavio himself qualified for the final of the 400m hurdle race. While in London, he met Rosita Jelmini, the granddaughter of a family of shawl and ladyswear manufacturers from Varese, in northern Italy. After marrying in 1953, they began making items of knitwear in a small workshop in the basement of their first home in Gallarate before moving, during the late 1960s, to the company’s present site in Sumirago with its magnificent views of the Monte Rosa mountains. When Diana Vreeland, the celebrated Editor-in-Chief of American Vogue, met the Missonis for the first time in 1969 she found their concept of fashion ‘ingenious’, commenting: ‘Who said there are only colours, there are shades too!’ Following this encounter, Missoni collections, with their characteristically bold use of zigzags, stripes and kaleidoscopic colours, began travelling the globe, attracting ever greater attention and gaining an international audience. Through the years, Ottavio and Rosita’s path has been followed by their children Angela, Vittorio and Luca, who today continue to keep alive the spirit of the Missoni style all over the world.
The exhibition Workshop Missoni: Daring to be Different at the Estorick Collection, curated by Luca Missoni with the support of the Fondazione Ottavio e Rosita Missoni, is displayed in three galleries, each of which can be viewed independently. Rather than focusing on finished products, the exhibition will take the viewer ‘behind the scenes’ of Missoni, exploring the technical working processes involved in the production of their fabrics and clothing and revealing their underlying sources of inspiration – including the fine arts.