Missoni was a most unlikely fashion icon. Hardly from humble beginnings, he was born in Dubrovnik, now Croatia, the son of an Italian sea captain and an Austrian countess. Missoni first rose to fame as a track and field champion, the youngest ever to win an Italian national title at just 16. His path was interrupted, however, by four years as a British prisoner of war during World War II. Released in 1946, he went on to join the Italians in the 1948 Olympics, where he placed sixth in hurdles. But his other contribution to the team was the that he designed their uniforms.
Misooni's fate as a designer was sealed when he met Rosita Jelmini at those London games. Five years later, they married and went into business together. The bride’s family was in the textile business, producing shawls and embroidery. They combined that knowledge with his burgeoning design skills to produce athletic knitwear together. The couple eventually adapted the Raschel knitting machine to make sensational sweaters and dresses instead of shawls, and thus was born their signature chevrons and streaky, space-dyed looks.
Missoni’s legacy is carried on by his family. Sadly, his CEO and eldest child, Vittorio, disappeared while in flight over Venezuela just last January. But his wife, and two younger generations continue to uphold the Missoni brand to its relentless success.
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