To be able to make a living out of my passion is luxury
The most iconic knitwear pattern owes its existence – and evolution – to the late Ottavio Missoni and his lifelong spouse and companion, Rosita. Together, they founded the Varese-based fashion house Missoni in 1953 and since then have developed new colours, patterns and machinery that has shaped the infectious Missoni chevron (the Missoni stripe), which has lost none of its appeal despite widely copied in everything, from cashmere stoles to fast-fashion T-shirts. No wonder then, that Rosita is elegant and at ease in her brilliant chevron jacket, with a cheeky Missoni bow holding her diminutive braid together. Here, the 80-year-old matriarch of one of Italy’s most revered fashion families talks about the more simple things in life such as, little luxuries, big mirrors and easy-to-follow style tips. Read on to find out more from the legend herself…
What do you love about India?
I have been to Jaipur. I have visited the crafts museum, seen and felt your textiles. I am in love with your crafts. The colours are simply amazing. They look so Missoni.
“Indian people have a fantastic sense of style, which they should never lose. While travelling in rural Rajasthan, I was struck by the brilliant and unique style of the local people.”
What about its people?
Indian people have a fantastic sense of style, which they should never lose. While travelling in rural Rajasthan, I was struck by the brilliant and unique style of the local people. A few males were huddled in a conversation and the jewellery that they were sporting was magnificent.
Have you seen the work of any Indian designers?
No, but I am sure it would be interesting.
What is the inspiration behind Missoni?
Missoni is everywhere. Once we were in Peru and I told someone, “Look, we have been copied 2,000 years ago.” (Laughs). In Egypt, around 3,000 years ago, ladies dressed in patterns that look like ours. The Nile was painted in a zigzag fashion. It’s difficult to explain, but I guess it’s what you absorb from things around you and express it through certain patterns.
What is your most precious possession?
It’s a wooden coffee table painted by my granddaughters Margherita and Jennifer, when they were kids. It is kept in the most lived corner of our house.
You have achieved nearly everything a person can think of achieving. What is luxury to you?
It is the time on doing all the things I like without feeling guilty. It could be something as simple yet precious as hunting for mushrooms on a sunny morning.
If somebody has to invest in a piece of furniture for his or her house, what would you suggest?
I would go with a big and beautiful mirror. Mirrors are a great help in small spaces. Imagine a lovely mirror overlooking a nice garden.
You have a keen eye for detail. You have overseen every aspect of the Missoni collection, even Hotel Missoni when it opened in Edinburgh. What is your advice to the Indian homeowner?
Functionality, comfort and cleanliness. I emphasise a lot on good furniture with nice comfortable design. I love Hans Wegner’s Wishbone chair. I have them in my home as well as my hotel. For instance, if the conversation moves from one corner of the house to another, you need to be able to move your seat. You can just pick up the Wishbone chair and move it. It looks classy too. And I prefer cleanliness to just good looks—for instance, while everybody wanted to carpet the corridors of my hotel, I insisted on using wooden flooring. They are easier to maintain.
One essential style tip?
I am scared to give advice. But you should be at ease in the clothes you wear and the way you carry yourself. Fashion is not something compulsory. I like it when people feel free.