Back in the 1950’s Ottavio and Rosita Missoni did something remarkable – they made machine-knitted fabric into cutting edge fashion. Their company, founded in 1953, brought together Ottavio’s love of art, design and colour with Rosita’s understanding of fashion to create an eclectic combination of colour and style – one that’s been sought after ever since. This summer there’s an exhibition of their work at the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey so Yannick and I went to take a look.
You can spot the museum easily on Bermondsey St – it’s the only one that’s bright yellow with a shocking pink door. Inside it’s compact, with the Missoni show taking up all of its exhibition space.
The show begins with a selection of some of the paintings that inspired Missoni’s work, including Sonia Delaunay, Futurism and Constructivism.
Then you turn the corner to be confronted by a massed rank of forty two mannequins dressed in iconic Missoni designs from 1953 to 2014. Missoni started off using stripes because that was all that the knitting machines at that time were capable of, but they later evolved into the zigzags that have become their trademark.
Across from the mannequins are what, for me, was the best part of the exhibition, Ottavio Missoni’s large wall hangings made from knitted patchwork.
The richness of the colour and pattern was overwhelming.
Upstairs there are some of Missoni’s designs, both at the drawing stage and translated into samples, again displaying the rich and creative combinations of colour for which they are known.
I was rather taken with this knitted jumper, displayed all by itself in a frame, epitomising Missoni’s style.
In a room with a Missoni carpet you can sit on coloured beanbags to watch a film of Ottavio and Rosita Missoni talking about their work and their inspiration. Ottavio died in 2013 but the Missoni family carries on the style he and Rosita created.
The Fashion and Textile Museum is on Bermondsey St, a short walk from London Bridge. The exhibition continues until 4th September.