Missoni, A Family Business

Rosita and Tai Missoni are perhaps fashion’s most famous mom and pop.

The business they started in 1953 became an international success, but the appeal of the label rested on not only the multi-coloured, multi-patterned knits that became instantly recognizable but also on the charm of the couple: her, a strong, familial force, and him, athletic and outgoing.

Together, they generated the kind of goodwill that made it easier for their daughter Angela, born Dec. 26, 1958, to assume responsibility for the women’s collection in the late ’90s.

Affection, inspired by domestic roots and unassuming attitudes, seems somewhat different from the kind of publicity earned by Angela Missoni’s daughter Margherita, born Feb. 22, 1983, who is part of a young, fast, photogenic European set recently covered by Vogue in a story headlined “Euroflash!”

It’s tempting to think of Margherita’s flashier side as deriving from her father Marco Maccapani, who, as a producer of fashion shows, has had a career in spectacle. But both Margherita and Angela are quick to point out that there is showiness in the Missoni blood, that Tai Missoni has always enjoyed an audience.

With last year’s launch of the Missoni fragrance collection (in partnership with the Estée Lauder Companies Inc.), Margherita earned her place on the payroll playing a more formal promotional role as the face in the campaign.

Flanked by an Estée Lauder PR team, both Missonis were in Toronto yesterday as guests at the Holt Renfrew dinner that was part of Bloor Street Entertains, Canfar’s AIDS fundraiser, and the whole holiday season is not likely to yield a more attractive mother and child.

Inevitably, age makes for differences between the two: Angela can give a fuller explanation of what a jacquard knit is; Margherita wears her trousers a few inches lower on the waist.

But there are also similarities.

Both have on pronouncedly platform shoes; both have boyfriends. Margherita’s is a guy she met at university in New York; Angela’s, a spirited, fun-loving fellow in the fashion business.

Over the past decade there has been frequent talk of Missoni being a brand rejuvenating itself. Angela will give full credit to her parents for being so creative that when she took over she really didn’t have to engineer a re-invention. But she also allows that it was necessary for her to inject enough variety and freshness that it was possible to know one season from the next, something that had become difficult to do but was increasingly imperative in the marketplace.

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