Zigzag vibe

The bold use of zigzags, stripes and kaleidoscopic colours is instantly recognisable: they are the key design elements of fashion house Missoni. Created by husband and wife team Rosita and Ottavio, Missoni’s knitwear is inspired by the natural environment as well as fine art. The influence of the Modernist art of the likes of Tancredi, Giacomo Balla and Gino Severini is explored in a new exhibition, Workshop Missoni: Daring to be Different, which also offers a glimpse into the Missoni working process. Exhibits include a collection of drawings and sketches by Ottavio for knitted fabric, which reveal the origins of specific graphic elements and chromatic compositions from the early 1970s that developed into the characteristic Missoni style. Also on show are garments; The Black and White of Colour, a documentary on the history of the Missoni brand; Casa di Moda, two video-based works of Turkish artist Ali Kazma which explore the Missoni working process; an installation capturing the sounds of the Missoni knitting machines, written by composer Pietro Pirelli, as well as photographs; and two giant mosaic vase sculptures displaying the elements of Missoni designs. The gallery spaces at London’s Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art frame the exhibition in a typical
Missoni manner, divided by columns of knitted fringes in vertical white and black stripes. The simplicity of Missoni’s design aesthetic was the key to its endurance. ‘Also they always had their own style, and weren’t trying to be too “trendy”,’ says curator Luca Missoni. ‘Young designers can see that there are many options to work in different ways. Art can be a big source of inspiration, but they should be true to their own ideas.’

Workshop Missoni: Daring to be Different is at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39a Canonbury Square, London N1 until 20 September

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