FOUNDED IN 1953 by Ottavio and Rosita Missoni, the Italian brand that carries their name has brought a whole new meaning to high-fashion knitwear. Famous for its iconic multi-colour and zigzag patterns style, it is today run by Angela Missoni who serves as creative director and president. She dropped into Bangkok recently for the grand opening of the brand’s first flagship boutique at Central Embassy, which is also the largest Missoni boutique in Southeast Asia.
The new store covers more than 200 square metres and features the full range of women’s, men’s, kid’s and home collections in a space that welcomes customers with a warm rusty orange and grey interior.
Missoni joined up with Pranapda Phornprapha, director of Missi, the official importer and distributor, to host an exclusive party and took time out to chat with The Nation. Excerpts:
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT COMING TO THAILAND?
I love it. I love travelling. I came to Thailand for the first time with my parents when I was a teenager, so 45 years ago. Since then, I have returned on holiday a few times and the opening of the boutique was an excellent excuse to come back! I think Thailand is an amazing destination and we have a lot of expectations.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE BRAND’S
HERITAGE AND HOW THAT HAS TRANSLATED TO TODAY?
Missoni is now 66 years old. I think it is one of the oldest that is still working actively and with the same family at the helm. Many other old brands have been reinvented and recreated but Missoni is still the same. I was very fortunate that my mother asked me to do the first line. Basically, she gave me her job. My parents invented the style that I refer to as our language. My duty is to update the lexicon or the vocabulary and that is what I constantly doing. I was lucky that I witnessed everything as the child. I was growing up while the label was growing up. The fact that I remember everything, every detail of the dresses, zips, buttons, and so on means that I never need to look at the archive. I always look to new projects. My mind is like a “mood board”, always looking forward to what I will do and what I will introduce.
How about your daughters?
We have a lot in common – myself, my mother, Margherita and my younger daughter, Theresa. We share the same sensibility and curiosity. If you see my mother’s house, my house, and Margherita’s house, you would recognise the links even though all three of us have very strong personalities. We share the same appreciation and curiosity and the design heritage my mother has passed down to us.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE KNITWEAR STYLE?
I would say the pieces that I create and I like to wear. As soon as I start creating the collection, I look at the best way to achieve the soft tailoring and the cut. I started the trench and I can wear it as an outer piece on top of trousers and skirts. It’s so easy to travel in and to dress up. If I had to pick one item I still wear today, I would say the trench. Last year I saw Meryl Streep presenting an award for a movie and she was wearing the trench I designed 15 years ago, which is my favourite. It’s interesting that everybody keeps certain Missoni items and, if you are lucky, that original size will still fit.
WHAT KIND OF KNITWEAR IS MOST SUITED TO A HOT CLIMATE LIKE OURS?
I have brought the finer yarns to make knitwear very light. What my mother wanted to do was create knitwear that would stun people in a certain way. She wanted a vertical stripe that a machine couldn’t produce so they just made it as fabric and then cut and sewed. Today, a lot of our collection is based on fabrics that are cut and sewn. Advanced technology can do many things and so it is very important to do research in knitwear just as we do with running shoes for Adidas. I have made lots of improvements with the finest yarns. Knits make travelling very easy. There are never any wrinkles.
IS THERE A CERTAIN RULE ABOUT MULTI-COLOUR MATCHING?
It’s all to do with sensibilities. I hope that when people come into the store, they can appreciate the look. First of all, learn not to be scared of colours and to wear patterns. Little by little, you learn to be confident, and realise that in fact colours make you feel good and really influence your mood.
AS A HIGH-END DESIGNER BRAND, WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU FACE FROM FAST
I have no problem with fast fashion. We produce all our fabrics and it is a long process –we are really an artisanal company. So, I’m not worried a bout that. With Missoni we are very special and customers know that our prints and patterns come with the highest quality.
WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?
I find inspiration in everything I see. I feel like I’m working like a filter! What I see, I translate into the cloth.
WHAT DOES BEING AT THE TOP OF ITALIAN DESIGN MEAN TO YOU?
That more is less. My parents pushed us to do many things when we were kids. We didn’t expect to work in the company but my father was very pragmatic, very special. That’s why they were so revolutionary in creating knitting and this brand. My father has never wanted to expand the company, he said we might make more money but we would have to work more and wouldn’t have time to spend the money. My father was very Mediterranean, he didn’t want problems. The more you own, the more you have problems. So less is better. I love my job and, yes, I work a lot but I try to keep my time balanced. When I go home, I go home, and I’m lucky that my parents built the company in a place they would love to spend their weekends. So the factory and the headquarters are up in the hills, surrounded by the forest. I live five minutes from there. Now my daughter’s family live around there too. So everybody is there, it is really a special place. We all go home for lunch, even in the middle of a working day. My parents made us appreciate this kind of life.