Relatively Speaking: Families in Fashion.
Keeping it in the family is a priority for the Missoni clan, Pippa Small and her artistic sister, and Giovanna and Sara Battaglia.
Like all good Italian dynasties, Missoni is founded on a love story. Rosita and Ottavio Missoni met at the 1948 Olympic Games – Ottavio (known as Tai) was competing as a 400m hurdler, Rosita was a student – and a fashion powerhouse was born. Both had knitwear in their genes: Rosita’s family had been making loungewear since the 1920s, and Tai owned a workshop producing tracksuits. They married in 1953, and have spun out eclectic zigzag knitwear ever since.
Rosita and Tai’s three children now run the company, designing everything from handbags to hotel rooms: Angela is the creative director of womenswear, Luca handles menswear and Vittorio is the CEO. ( Vittorio has been missing since January 4 when the plane he was travelling in disappeared over the Caribbean.) Turnover last year was €70 million, but the Missoni home is set a world away from the glitz those figures suggest.
The family occupies a wooded plot in the dusty hills of Sumirago, a sleepy town 40km north of Milan that also houses the company HQ and clothing factory. Rosita and Tai’s glass-fronted villa, where I meet three generations of the family, is stuffed with artwork and kitschy curios. Wooden pineapples upholstered in a zingy Missoni fabric lie beneath paintings by the Italian futurists Gino Severini and Alberto Savinio; a dresser full of art deco vases sits alongside a collage by Tai, picturing Angela aged four with a stiletto shoe on her head. When I arrive, Rosita is fishing through a gargantuan box of bread and pulling out olive sticks to nibble – a gift to mark her 81st birthday the day before – while Angela greets her father, who is reclining on a zebra-print sofa and rocking a Missoni cardigan at the age of 91. Angela lives in a house next door, her brothers on adjoining plots; granddaughters Margherita and Teresa live 10 minutes away from each other in central Milan, although they and their cousins regularly pile in unannounced to their grandparents’ for lunch. The house is just like any hectic family hub – albeit one that has a Matisse on the wall.