Martedì, 25 Settembre 2018
MILAN

Italy mourns athlete-turned-designer Ottavio Missoni

English
© ANSA

(By Elisa Cecchi).
Milan, May 9 - Italian designer Ottavio Missoni,
founder with wife Rosita of the Missoni fashion house known
worldwide for its trademark colourful knitwear, has died aged
92, his family said on Thursday.
His eldest son Vittorio, the 58-year-old CEO of the
Italian fashion house, and his wife Maurizia Castiglioni were
aboard a small plane that went missing off the Venezuelan coast
in January.
Ottavio Missoni, known as Tai, was born in 1921 in
Dubrovnik, which is known as Ragusa by Italians.
He started out as a promising international athlete but his
sporting career was interrupted when he was made a prisoner of
war in World War II.
After the war, he resumed competing in 400 metres and 400m
hurdles.
He also started designing wool tracksuits which were worn
by the Italian team at the 1948 Olympics in London.
He came in sixth at the 1948 Olympics and fourth at the
European Championships in 1950 before marrying in 1953 his
lifetime business partner Rosita Jelmini, the daughter of
textile entrepreneurs from Lombardy.
The same year they founded their eponymous brand, Missoni,
which has evolved through the decades while remaining
immediately recognizable for its famous zig-zag patterns.
At first the couple worked from a small atelier in
Gallarate, Milan. The big break came in 1958 when the Rinascente
department store ordered the Missonis 500 striped dresses.
"We were trying to work with colours, but with the
machinery we had back then it was hard", Ottavio Missoni once
told ANSA in an interview. So Tai, described by Polish-French
artist Balthus as "a master of colour" and his wife researched
new techniques to develop their unique patterns.
The duo in 1969 built their factory and home in Sumirago,
near Varese, where the family still lives and works.
By the 1970s the Missonis were among the most prominent
Italian fashion designers - their bold patterns, rich patchworks
and unique colour combinations a major success with
unprecedented staying power.
During that era Tai would use his famous expression "put
together" to describe to buyers from the booming US market the
label's singular and innovative combinations of different
patterns and colours which is so in-vogue in today's fashion
industry.
A number of international museums have honoured with
exhibits Missoni's original and unique creations throughout the
years including New York's Metropolitan. The label has also made
costumes for Milan's La Scala opera house.
The Missoni's three children - Vittorio, Angela and Luca -
took over in the 1990s and they are credited with giving new
life to the label, which had lost some of its appeal.
The company is today led by Angela, the label's creative
designer, and Luca, the creative director, as well as by a
number of grandchildren including Margherita Maccapani Missoni,
who has starred in company ads.
Though smaller than leading Italian competitors - the
company posted revenues of over 150 million euros in 2011 - the
label has remained an icon throughout the decades thanks to its
unique style, which has always eschewed trends, and the dashing
personality of the Missonis, notably Tai.
"He was sunny like the colours in his designs", said Milan
Mayor Giuliano Pisapia.
Many in Sumirago also remembered him on Thursday as "the
town's symbol". "He was an open and attentive person", said a
local whose mother had worked for the Missonis for three
decades. "His company was like a family, so much so that my
mother cried on the day she retired".
"I've never done what was fashionable", Ottavio Missoni
told WWD in one of his last interviews.
"I didn't want to work with preset schemes and I paint my
own way".
He once wrote, when he became an honorary citizen of
Trieste in 2008, that his iconic zig-zag pattern was a symbol of
life.
"You see, that's how life goes - with a zig-zag route".

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