The fashion world was saddened last week by the death of Italian fashion designer, Ottavio Missoni, after a recent hospitalization for heart problems. Known by his nickname, ‘Tai’, his fashion label was known for its revolutionary textile patterns, with its trademark zig-zag and stripes. Missoni also pioneered the trend of women wearing garments without bras. Ottavio Missoni is also credited with raising the profile of Italian made products and designers across the globe at a time where New York fashion designers were starting to dominate the fashion scene.
Ottavio Missoni had originally prepared for a career in athletics but that soon came to a halt with the outbreak of World War II. He served in the Italian army and became captured by the British after a battle in Egypt. After being held as a prisoner of war for four years in Egypt, Missoni resumed his athletic training and was chosen to go to the Olympics. Soon after, he married his wife, Rosita, in 1953. The two originally made track-suits but in 1958, they presented their first knitwear collection in Milan.
The rule-breaking Missonis first caused a stir in the fashion scene in1967 when they told their runway models to remove their bras before a major fashion show in Florence so that the colors of the undergarments would not show through the knitwear. The harsh lights of the runway ended up making the clothes transparent and soon the Missoni label became one of the most buzzed about brands in fashion with photographers shooting their apparel for the covers of Vogue and Elle.
Rosita explains that the two “…lived in very favorable times because it was the beginning of what then came to be called Pret-a-Porter”. Their dedication to ready-to-wear fashions is still apparent with their sold-out 2011 line for fashion giant, Target. The line was so highly anticipated that rabid fashionistas crashed the Target website on the day of the line’s unveiling.
The Missoni label has made headlines not only for their phenomenal fashions but also with the tragedy of the family’s oldest son, Vittorio, when he, his wife and four other were believed to be dead after their plane crashed off the Venezuela’s coast in January. Although there has been much sadness with this luxury brand, the future looks bright for Missoni. Today, several of Octtavio’s children and grandchildren manage the company and continue its reign over the fashion world.