European Fashion Heritage Association

Journal Designers

Meeting Fashion Heritage: Missoni Archive

corporate archivefashion exhibitionItalian fashionmeeting fashion heritage

We are proud to present this month’s #meetingfashionheritage focus: the Missoni Archive. From fashion to art, through popular culture and sport, here the team opens the doors of the kaleidoscopic Missoni world, inviting us to a colourful – and meaningful – journey

The MISSONI fashion house was born in 1953, when Ottavio Missoni and Rosita Jelmini, after getting married, started working together, combining Ottavio’s experience in the production of knitted sports tracksuits and Rosita’s passion for fashion, born in the family tailoring company.

In 1978 the Missonis celebrated their 25 years of creativity with a retrospective exhibition at the Rotonda della Besana in Milan and at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. For the first time they became aware of their own heritage,  synonymous of the unique artistic language and style they had conceived. As a result, an Archive was created, collecting in a chronological and systematic way not only editorials and sales photo books but also  a selection of garments  from the collections.

In 1994, for Missoni’s 40th anniversary, the exhibition MISSONOLOGIA showed more than 100 outfits from the Archive, codified in a thematic order, thus describing the sign language in an analytic way. Since 2007, to meet the new requirements, a digital archiving system became necessary and in 2012 most of the Archive was physically reorganized and, thanks to the participation to the Europeana Fashion Projec,t its contents were digitalised and tagged. This activity is still going on, since the brand every season needs to archive its new collections and the related items.

The Archive has evolved into a  corporate research and communication tool representing the most important reference for the heritage for the brand and its art values preserved and valorized through the  ‘Ottavio e Rosita Missoni Foundation’. Confirming a leading role in the Italian Fashion social context, it favors cultural relations  with museums, fashion and design schools, professional institutes and universities.

Its Artistic Director Luca Missoni has curated fashion and art exhibitions as: MISSONOLOGIA in Florence and in Milan (1994), OPERA in Tokyo (1996), Caleidoscopio Missoni in Gorizia (2006), Taller Missoni in Madrid (2009), Workshop Missoni in London (2009), Ottavio Missoni. Il Genio del Colore in Slovenia and Croatia (2012), MISSONI, L’ARTE, IL COLORE in Gallarate (2015), and in London (2016), Marc Chagall-Ottavio Missoni, Sogno e Colore in Noto (2017) and created the cosumes for performing art events as AEROS, an innovative dance production on the playbill since January 2003, and Japan Orfeo, an opera performed in Tokyo in 2017 for the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of commercial trade between Italy and Japan. In 2019, Scripta Maneant published ‘MISSONI. The Great Italian Fashion’, a visual Art book by Art Critic and Art History Professor Massimiliano Capella who selected the contents directly from the Archive.

The Missoni Archive at present consists of about 20,000 pieces from the Missoni men’s and women’s collections, plus a myriad of accessories, fabric swatches; editorials, books, photographs and videos, and it is proud of conserving the artistic work of Ottavio Missoni consisting of patchwork tapestries, original drawings and textile studies. Most of the archive contents are available for consultation on the website and on EFHA database.