Missoni abstract art in textiles

Until early September, London museum of Fashion and Textile is running an exhibition dedicated to Missoni family business of fashion, art and textiles.

The zig-zag family is famous for its skill of translating modern abstract art into fabulous textiles and eventually into fashionable clothing items. I had a chance to take a closer look at how it all started for them and where the inspiration comes from.

Surprisingly it all started off in London, where Ottavio Missoni met his to-be-wife Rosita during the London Olympics in 1948. He was competing in the 400m-hurdle race, she was the granddaughter of a family of shawl and ladieswear manufacturers from Varese, Italy. They got married in 1953 and started making items of knitwear in a small workshop at the basement of their first home. Their first collection of clothes got presented in 1958 in Milan and the rest followed. Being grately influenced by the works of modern abstract artists´, Missonis took the direct inspiration and “painted” it in the lines of the weave. In the fabric patterns it is possible to spot the references to work of Sonia Delaunay, Lucio Fontana and Gino Severini, to name but a few. Bright colours and geometrical shapes take the rule.

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The exhibition displays the inspirational works of art of the mentioned modern artists, next to the fabric developments, sketches and eventually an “army” of mannequins wearing the finished rainbow-coloured collection pieces. Fashion has been really embraced by art (or vice versa), forming a rather interesting set up of the exhibition.

IMG_3216Ottavio Missoni has also created tapestry wall pieces works of art of his fabric cut offs. A really creative way of production waste management, I must say!

Ottavio has said, he is the artist of the family, but Rosita had created him in the first place.

The same patterns and tendencies can be spotted in their latest collections as well. Rosita has said: “There may be 7 colours in the rainbow, but there are also endless array of shades! And black is also a colour, the one that acts great as a background, bringing out the vibrancy of others.”

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The decades-long business has managed to keep it all in the family, involving their children and grandchildren, proudly made in Italy.

The exhibition runs till the 4th of September 2016.

This story was also published in Estonian web magazine Femme.

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