When I think of Missoni, I think of summer days on the Riviera, hair in a topknot with a crochet-knitheadband, something long and floaty covering tanned skin. I think of night time in a plush apartment and walking into the living room after a deep bubble bath, vertical zig zag dressing gown hugging the body, before curling up on a sofa lit with cushions in pastel tones.
As somebody who is drawn to stripes and colourful knitwear, I'm naturally intrigued by all things Missoni. But, whereas before I just saw the trademark chevron stripes and light knits(when not in some luxurious fantasy like above), the Missoni Art Colour exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum shows the creativity and artistic references that were/are fundamental in forming the prints.
It begins in twentieth-century Europe with artists such as Sonia Delaunay, Giacomo Balla and Gino Severini, whose abstract and futurist work served as inspiration for Ottavio and Rosita, Missoni's founders. Throughout the exhibition, Ottavio's work, such as acrylic painted stripes on white and black backgrounds, are framed and hung amongst that of relative artists (For example, the 1937 hypnotic 'Politipo l'immaginazione crea' by Alberto Biasi- a blue wooden board layered with green polythene ribbons that vertically move in an optical illusion)
There's an insight into how design work can be applied to different forms and how fashion and art intermingle flawlessly, the right hand wall in the main area filled with Ottavio's knitted patchwork wall hangings. The patchworks are kaleidoscopic, a combination of zig zags and rotated squares in purples, pink, greens and browns. Ottavio is quoted as saying "both 'colour' and 'material' are the elements essential to my craft. As for my patchworks, they are a natural extension of my work, of the pleasure I get from playing with little pieces of multicolour knit fabrics where each single one deserves particular attention since it has a story and life of its own." Maybe that's what's particular engaging about Missoni products. The way that the same distinctive style is reapplied but the variety of colours means new associations and feelings are conjured up.
Overall, knitwear is put into context with Modern art and this I particular enjoy. It can be an art form, not just a type of clothing produced for the sake of being clothing, and Missoni's heritage has demonstrated this.