Angela Missoni Reflects on Her 20 Year Reign
"I am very instinctive about what I think is right, especially when it comes to human rights."
By: Mike Suber
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Angela Missoni ’s reign at the head of the family owned Missoni house. During those two decades she has proven over and over again that there is always room for creativity, even within the confines of a house’s iconic DNA. In the case of Missoni, the brand’s hallmark colorful knitwear, in zigzag shades, has been the upbeat foundation for countless collection. Each one a master class in color blending, knitwear innovation and feel good fashion.
Here Missoni reflects back on how far she has come, being a role model for the world and where she sees the business heading next.
Q: So did it come as something of a surprise that’s it’s been 20 years since you became the creative director of Missoni?
A: Yes, actually 2 years ago, I started realizing that I was getting closer to my 20th. It’s kind of impressive thinking about what I’ve done, my work, about Missoni of course and because I never had during those years looked back at the archives to find inspiration because I knew it by heart. So talking with my team, which is very small team, they started to say this time we need to go and do a research on your 20 years.
Q: Did you have any surprise when you were looking back through your work?
A: Yes, because I let them go into the archives and to see the enthusiasm they had looking at certain things, it gave me the inspiration to work on certain things. I am happy that my work still instills enthusiasm.
Q: Was there ever any question you would take over from you mother Rosetta? When you were younger, did you want to be somebody else?
A: Honestly, when I was a kid I never thought about working in fashion or at the company. I was thinking it was my parents’ job, they invented that job so I thought I had to invent my job too. I didn’t take it for granted, ever. I wanted to have pocket money. I was always present to any kind of event, either because my mom would take me with her as I was young to not leave me at home alone, and every single show in Milan I was there. I have a memory of fashion history that is much older than my age. I’ve seen shows at Palazzo Pitti. I remember at least 3 generations of fashion reporters.
Q: Do your kids also want to carry on the tradition?
A: I know that the girls have a passion for fashion. I know Margarita had this natural charisma, her own sense of style since an early age. Teresa studied fashion but she was designing already when she was young. She does her own clothes, her own dresses. So we’ll see in the future because for the moment they are both moms.
Q: As a hands on working mother how do you balance work life and the life of the family?
A: I am very lucky and the big gift I had from my parents, besides inheriting this business and this passion for fashion, was they decided to build a factory, an atelier in a place they wanted to live in. So they decided to build the factory with the view of the mountains in a place where someone else would have built a villa. Me and my brothers we stayed to live there I mean I lived 5 min from my parents. And the same happened with my children. Initially they all left home but then the girls, when they got pregnant, decided to come back to nest and stay at home. They said “I want my children to grow the same way I did”. It was the same feeling I had with my parents. They showed us you can have a very grounded life with nature and family. I would let my kids participate in every event we did at Missoni. I had to fight with teachers sometimes because when I had to write they would go to the fashion shows and the teachers would tell me “your kid shouldn’t go to the fashion show” and I said “Yes, they need to see what their parents do as a job”.
Q: I was really touched when I saw all the pink pussy hats at the fall/winter 2017 collection. That was kind of a statement? What made you decide to put yourself out there like that?
A: I am very instinctive about what I think is right, especially when it comes to human rights. I was so touched and I was so impressed when I saw the Women’s March and I wanted to be part of it. And I saw so many people who wanted to be part of it and that were saying: What can I do? Then I learned about the story of the pussy hat and I was so impressed, I think it was the strongest symbol that became so powerful.
So I said to myself “I am going to give out pussy hats to everyone at the show”.
Q: What has been the biggest change for you since you became the creative director at Missoni?
A: Of course in communications. I spend 35% of my time in communications. Actually we are re-designing our website now. It is a non-stop job. Today you have to do the campaign and fill every month with some sort of communication. This will change your production, the way you are producing, the way you are presenting for example men and women. Now for Missoni, I want to present menswear and womenswear together. I need to be sure I am communicating one message.
Q: I know this is probably a stupid question but have you ever just wanted to do a minimalist with no patterns or prints? Or do you just live in a color filled world?
A: My life has always been in colors. But when I started my own line in 1992, something like that, my goal was to exploit yarns, solid shapes, stitches and relief and little by little I was adding patterns. At the end of my fourth show, My mom came to me and asked me if I was ready to do the main line. She said” what you’re doing is what I would like Missoni to be today”. Then she said “In fashion you have to do when you are passionate and when you have the strength to fight for your ideas against the commercial side of the business”.