Missoni is an Italian fashion house based in Milan. It is famous for its unique knitwear, made from a variety of fabrics in colourful patterns. The company was founded by Ottavio ("Tai") and Rosita Missoni in 1953.
They married in April 1953, and set up a small knitwear workshop in Gallarate, not far from Rosita's home village. In 1958 they presented in Milan their first collection, called Milano-Simpathy, which was the first to bear the Missoni label. The business prospered, with the support of legendary editor Anna Piaggi, then at Arianna. On a trip to New York, Rosita met the French stylist Emmanuelle Kahn in 1965, which led to a collaboration and a radical new collection the following year. Their fame was assured in April 1967, when they were invited to show at the Pitti Palace in Florence. Rosita told the models to remove their bras, supposedly because they were the wrong colour and showed through the thin lamé blouses. The material became transparent under the lights and caused a sensation. The Missonis were not invited back the following year, but the business went from strength to strength, building a new factory in Sumirago in 1969. With their designs being championed in the US by Diana Vreeland, editor of Vogue magazine, they opened their first boutique there, inside Bloomingdales.
The early 1970s saw Missoni reach the peak of their influence in the fashion world. Tai Missoni then became more interested in other projects, everything from designing costumes for La Scala, to designing carpets and tapestries. Rosita has admitted that in the 1990s she lost interest in fashion, before handing over to her daughter Angela in 1998. Rosita now is responsible for overseeing the design of all home projects.
Ottavio Missoni was Sindaco (Mayor) of Libero Comune di Zara in Esilio.
The Missoni Home collection has its roots in furnishing fabrics produced in 1981 in collaboration with Rosita's family firm. They launched their first perfume in 1982, although that product has nothing to do with the license now held by Estée Lauder.
In November 2005, Missoni and the Rezidor Hotel Group signed an agreement to create Hotel Missoni, a lifestyle hotel chain. The first locations were announced in March 2006 in Kuwait, Edinburgh and Dubai. The first property, the Hotel Missoni Kuwait will open in a luxury mixed-use development on the seafront at the beginning of 2009, with Edinburgh following later in the second quarter of 2009. Not much is known about the Dubai property, but it is expected to launch sometime in 2009 or 2010. Further properties are currently rumored for London (United Kingdom), Paris (France), Miami (United States of America) and Kiev (Ukraine).
The three children of the founders play a large part in the business. Vittorio (born 1954) is the Marketing Director, Luca (born 1956) is responsible for the design of the menswear collection, and Angela (born 1958) is Creative Director for womenswear.
Luca's daughter, Jennifer Missoni, is an actress who has appeared in Off Broadway theatre productions, and in episodes of Damages and the Law & Order series. Angela's daughter, Margherita, is also studying in New York to be an actress. She is the unofficial "muse" of the Missoni collection and the face of their two perfumes.