THE FAMILY OF FASHION. Angela Missoni is the creative director and president of Missoni, her family’s beloved knitwear brand, which has been popular since her parents started creating their psychedelic patterns and multi-coloured zigzag knitwear. Angela Missoni lives in a beautiful house in Brunello, in front of Lago di Varese, very near by her company HQ, and all the Missoni family live around there.
Were you raised in this beautiful place?
We moved here from Gallarate when I was 13. At the end of the sixties my parents decided to build their own factory in a place where they loved to spend their weekends. First they built the factory, and then in 1972 we moved into the house, at a walking distance to the factory. We all have this addiction to the view of the Monte Rosa that we can see from the factory, from the office at the HQ, from my parents’ house, from my previous house where I raised my kids; and both my daughters, Margherita and Teresa, have the same view from their houses.
For a few years did you only want to be a mother?
I had to have children, this was my priority, so at 28 I had three kids. I had started working for the company aged 18 to raise some pocket money, and then little by little assisted my mum in the atelier, but my priority was maternity. When I was pregnant with Teresa I went to my dad and said this can never be my job, but my dad said you can consider this company like a big umbrella and you don’t have to work with your mum every single day. I had to do things on my own to get my self-esteem, and 3 or 4 years after I realised I wanted to express myself in fashion I asked if I could do my own Angela Missoni knitwear collection, which was totally solid for the first couple of seasons. Then my mother said, why don’t you do the main collection? You have to do fashion when you are young and have the strength to fight for your own ideas. So I started building my team and after four seasons like that, twenty two years ago, I came out on the catwalk on my own and from that moment I was appointed creative director of the company; and I still am. It is the job of designer moved to the name of creative director, because you don’t only have to know how to present the collection but you have to do all the image work that goes with it.
How much has the business changed since the time of your parents, Ottavio and Rosita, who started Missoni in 1953?
The business has dramatically changed, and it was my parents who decided not to show any longer in Florence at the Pitti Palace. Everyone was landing at Malpense and passing by here, so they started Milan Fashion Week.
Was this before Armani?
Way before. This was 1974, when Armani was working for other people; and Dolce and Gabbana came much later. We are the only fashion brand with three generations of the same family handling both the business and the creative side of the company.
Is Missoni a womenswear company?
Menswear has always been relevant with my father, but fashion is in the hands of women. The Missoni men are more involved in business. My brother Luca is very creative too, and he takes care of the Missoni archives and all the exhibitions.
“We are the only fashion brand with three generations of the same family handling both the business and the creative side of the company.”
Jennifer Missoni, Angela Missoni, Ottavio Missoni, Margherita Maccapani Missoni, Marco Missoni, Rosita Missoni, Teresa Maccapani Missoni, Luca Missoni, Giacommo Missoni and Francesco Maccapani Missoni attend the Missoni Art Colour preview in partnership with Woolmark at The Fashion and Textile Museum on May 4, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Darren Gerrish/WireImage)
What has changed over the years?
When I took over, the company was already 40 years old. I always felt that I was fixing things, and still today I am fixing things, and especially in the past 20 years, when after every five years you realise that your company is an old company. My parents were famous for inventing a style in fashion based on knitwear and colours, and the way you put colours together, and Missoni still works mainly on clothing, not accessories, which is a rarity today.
Why is Missoni like this?
My father considered himself an artisan and never wanted to grow the company. The more you grow, the more problems you have. My mum was from a creative family of industrialists and was not an industrialist herself, but she was always a builder, and I feel that way too, one brick on top of the other. In the seventies my dad told her, Rosita I don’t understand, why do you want to work more? OK, we will gain more money, but we will never have the time to spend it! My father didn’t want to have more responsibility when he had enough to have a good life.
How many people work for Missoni?
Today we have 300 people working directly, and then many laboratories that work exclusively for us from outside. We give work to maybe 800 or 1000 people.
Now you are the Chairman. What do you want to achieve?
I want Missoni to survive, to grow, and to be relevant in the future. I was always looking to what we needed to do in the future for the third generation. We have to expand the market and invest with a financial partner, and I think we found the right one with Fondo Strategico Italiano (FSI), which has an international background, and the purpose of this FSI fund is to help Italian excellence to grow.
Is the Made in Italy brand still very strong?
Yes, it is still something that is world renowned for the quality of production of garments, of knitwear, of leathers. It’s still number one, and high end products are made in Italy for French and US brands.
How do you want to grow?
In organisation, and we need competent people and we have projects to expand. Our second line, M Missoni, which my daughter Margherita created and is in charge of, used to be a licence, and then we decided to take it back home and invest in it. Also we have to invest in accessories, and to expand our men’s line. Also we will open more shops around the world.
“I am always looking forward, I never look back, so Missoni is never vintage in the collection we present.”
How many shops do you have?
We have 30, 50% directly from the company and 50% in franchisee. We have never approached the most important, and more and more relevant, Chinese market. We opened a new store in New York last Autumn, and will be in Singapore by the end of the year. Bangkok has just opened, Hong Kong will open soon, and we have two stores in Miami, one for Missoni, one for M. Then we will expand the MissoniHome line, which is still under the creative direction of Rosita, my mother.
What is Angela’s fashion today?
I have always had a very strong link to my roots, so what I have done is to evolve Missoni in a contemporary way. I know the archives by heart because I have an amazing memory and I was a detail observer from an early age. From five years old I remember the shoes, the hairstyle, the image, the people, everything. I never do research in the archive, I always work with new mood boards, and at that point I make links with the past of Missoni. I am always looking forward, I never look back, so Missoni is never vintage in the collection we present.
Is Missoni very different from other brands?
If you think of Gucci today in terms of fashion you think of Tom Ford for Gucci. Now Alessandro Michele is there. But Gucci was accessories in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, and so basically a designer with a strong vision can bring it 100%. In 20 years another designer will be there, and Gucci will become something else. But Missoni has always been Missoni.
How do you change?
With your vision and what you feel. The silhouette and the colour are never the same.
What do people appreciate in Missoni?
People have affection for the fact of this strong heritage. Missoni becomes part of your wardrobe.
Missoni Spring Collection Estate 2019
Home Sweet Home – Missoni
Home Sweet Home – Missoni
Missoni Spring Collection Estate 2019
The panoramic view from Angela Missoni’s home
Home Sweet Home – Missoni
“I am helped by the Missoni third generation and the way they see the world and communicate.”
Are you very expensive?
We don’t have couture, but our prêt-à-porter is expensive. M Missoni is less expensive, but still an expensive line. Missoni is a trans-generational brand, it’s a question of sensibility and personality and this does not age. I see the three generations coming to my shops, and my mother at 87 is so cool and so fresh, you realise fashion has no age. But of course you need to communicate with the younger generation of today.
How do you communicate with the young generation in the age of the internet?
There is the internet and then there are the very loud voices from the big companies, which have presence all over and invest a lot in communications. How do we make our voice heard? In digital, if you have something to say and know the right language, you have the chance to be heard. I am 60 today, and I hope to still have the eye and the ear to be able to catch up, but I am helped by the Missoni third generation and the way they see the world and communicate. But Margherita is 36 already, and sometimes I tease her and say, are you sure you are keeping up? You are a late millennial! In the team we bring in young voices and young eyes.
Do large organisations want to buy you?
The family love this project, and it has kept the family together. It’s a company that has many facets so there is the opportunity for interesting and passionate jobs for future generations. It’s good to keep it together.
Is family very important for you?
Yes, but not only blood family. Family is something even more expanded, friends, and people who are working with me. Tribe is more important than family. At a Missoni party there are three generations, but not only the family, it has always been very inclusive. One of the more relevant gifts my parents gave to the family was to build this factory here, and for us to live here. We are so fortunate to have beautiful amazing creative jobs in this wonderful place.
Where are you stronger?
Last year we did some market research that gave amazing results which we didn’t expect. Missoni is well known by 75% of high end buyers for luxury in the States, in the Far East, in Europe, in Japan. We are recognised, surprisingly, because we are a small company and our product is rare to find.
Do you travel very much?
I do travel a lot for business, and I also like to travel in Italy when I have free time, for pleasure.
You have 30 stores, but aren’t people now buying by internet?
Yes, of course. Digital online increases ever year, and the Missoni online store is very important and relevant, but today there is this multi-channel approach where the store becomes an experience to the brand, so how you develop the store is very important. Online buying is quick, and you do not have the opportunity to go deep into the history of the product, but stores will still be relevant in the future, as an experience.
Do you have a specific colour that you like?
Personally I love greens and I love turquoise. In the Missoni clothes I will sometimes add these in, but mainly in my personal wardrobe.
Is the evening dress still the dream of every woman?
Yes, but the most important thing about any dress is that you have feel very comfortable and at ease when you wear it, because the most unsensual and unappealing thing is a woman who pulls at her dress every couple of minutes. You have to feel 100% comfortable and at ease.
Is there something you want to say?
Life is very short, so try to enhance any moment of your day. Try to get the best out of it. And remember that you can change your point of view, your perspective on things, without losing your integrity. Always be open to changing your mind.
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