Brands You Should Know

Missoni

The Italian knitwear specialists that built a brand on eschewing understatement.

"Tone it down? I don't understand..."

Missy Rayder’s NSFW “wardrobe malfunction” at the spring 2012 Michael Bastian show may have launched an onslaught of retweets, reblogs, and comments from the blogosphere, but a somewhat similar debacle in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, 1967? That launched a whole brand. Rosita and Ottavio (Tai) Missoni had everything ready for their presentation when Rosita decided that the models’ undergarments weren’t the right color. But they had to walk, so she sent the entire fleet out in their totally sheer blouses—sans bras.

The husband-and-wife design duo weren’t invited back the next year, but the event marked the moment of Missoni’s true arrival on the international fashion scene. Tai and Rosita were already garnering attention from fashion editors after more than a decade of innovation and hard work—they married and set up shop in Gallarate, Italy in 1953—but the fiasco at Pitti catapulted the family-run label from promising up-and-comer to bona fide superstar status. Turns out trailblazing technique, bold colors, and eye-bending geometric patterns will take you a long way, but scandal will speed the journey along mightily.

In 1973, Missoni won the coveted Neiman Marcus Fashion Award, and over the course of the following years, those iconic stripes, waves, zigzags, and chevrons found their way into everything from art exhibitions, to home décor, to a menswear line. And though the Missoni brand has become a genuine household name at this point, they’ve still kept things in the family. Rosita and Tai stepped out of their design roles in the late 90s—as did son Luca, who helmed the men’s division from 2001-2008—and now daughter Angela is keeping things going. If the 200% markups on the Missoni for Target items folks were flipping on eBay a while back are any indication, she’s doing a damn fine job of it.

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