Missoni is one of the most recognized and loved fashion brands in the world known for its colorful, zigzag motifs, stripes, and waves. It dates back to 1953 when Ottavio and Rosita Missoni set up a knitwear business that quickly became the quintessential Italian fashion house. The couple later passed the business on to their children Vittorio, Luca and Angela, the brand’s creative director since 1996, who not only continued their parents legacy but also managed to stay on the cutting edge of fashion more than 60 years in the industry.
Interviewing Angela Missoni was quite exciting, and nerve-racking for me. She is not only an extraordinary designer, but a woman-boss who has managed to helm Missoni for 20 years now throughout turbulent economical times, ever-changing fashion industry, and a digital boom — all without skipping a beat or compromising the integrity of the Missoni brand. She is warm and friendly, opinionated and reflective, and everything a woman should be in our booming era of female empowerment. She has had many strong women in her life, starting with her own mother, and below reflects on the importance of strong female leadership, 20 years at the helm of Missoni, and what she would have been had fashion not been her destiny.
FF: After 20 years with Missoni, is the brand where you want it to be?
That’s a good question. Twenty years ago, I did not expect the fashion world to evolve in the way it has been today. In the beginning, I had the feeling that my company was already 44 years old, so I knew I had to fix many things — and I am not talking about design only; I was thinking 360 degrees, the company as a whole. And you know, I am still fixing it and evolving, that’s the point. Because today, a 5-year-old company is considered old, so I never stopped fixing. I am a problem solver by nature, so every day I find new problems to solve.
In terms of fashion, I am amazed and surprised of myself, that Missoni is still strong. To see a fashion brand has been strong throughout so many years, for six decades to not only survive but to also stay with the trends, and stay relevant [is amazing.] I say to myself, ‘It’s miraculous.’ So maybe I am a magician, I don’t know… (laughs) Because if I look at everything around the world, and what is relevant today, for an old company to stay relevant it takes much more effort that it would have been 20 years ago.
FF: How do you feel as a woman entrepreneur in a day and age where female empowerment is important?
I was very lucky, that I have been brought up in a very open minded family. In fact, I must say that I took a lot of things for granted because for me working was normal. I’ve always known I had to work; I never had doubt of not working in my life. My mom comes from a family of working women – I am the fourth generation of working women at the helm of companies. My great-grandmother, and my grandmother (on my mom’s side), they were already at the helm of companies — behind their husbands, BUT, they were always decision-makers. So my mom, she built the company with my father, and for me it was normal that I had to work. I was lucky I had my kids young so I could concentrate on my work in my 30s. But as I said, I took everything a little bit for granted. It took me a few years, after I had my girls, when I told them, ‘Look, we have to work on a daily basis to keep everything women have worked for. Don’t take it for granted!’
FF: During Missoni’s fall 2017 runway, you grabbed the female empowerment right by the horns and reflected your own view by sending models down the runway wearing the pink pussy hats. How do you feel about female empowerment today?
I feel like we have to speak louder, we have to get together, and keep working together. Alone, you are not getting anywhere. So, stay close to your girlfriends. Support them. Give support to every woman. Give support to men as well, they might need it as well. But we need to stay together, we need to keep talking about what’s not right, and we need to just go for it. Don’t let anybody touch your leg. I was reading School of Awake, by Kidada Jones – this is a book that every mom has to buy for her daughter. You have to learn how to love yourself, you have to learn that you are special always, and you have to go for it, always.
FF: Who’s your style icon?
My mom. [Editor’s Note: this is Rosita Missoni and she is everything]
FF: What are your fashion must-haves?
Something you can easily travel with, a pair of comfortable shoes.
FF: If your closet is on fire, what would you save?
My Missoni trenchcoat.
FF: If you are not a designer, what would you do?