Albini, Walter

Albini Walter (1941-1983). He was an Italian designer. He left his inspired mark on the 1960s and 1970s, anticipating many trends.

Albini Walter (1941-1983). Italian designer. He left his inspired mark on the 1960s and 1970s, anticipating many trends and opening the door to the great success of Italian prêt-à-porter. He was born Gualtiero Angelo Albini in Busto Arsizio, Lombardy, on March 3, 1941.

The beginning of his career

Against the advice of his parents, he abandoned the study of classics to attend the Institute of Art, Design and Fashion in Turin. He was the sole male student. At 17 he began to work with magazines and newspapers, making sketches of the fashion shows, first in Rome, and then in Paris. In 1961, he moved to Paris to complete his studies and stayed there for four years. There he met Chanel, falling under her spell. He studied her creations in detail in the pages of old issues of important fashion magazines which he bought in bulk.

The designer, Walter Albini.

Albini’s first collection

Then in 1963, the designer created his first collection for Gianni Baldini. After meeting Mariuccia Mandelli in Paris, he worked three years for Krizia. This where he experimented in industry methods. Then in the last season Albini worked with Karl Lagerfeld, who was just starting out. He later designs for Billy Ballo, Cadette and then for Trell, Billy Ballo, Paola Signorini and many other. In his work of that time one can already see a tribute to Poiret.

Some sketches.

Albini’s success

Towards the end of the 1960s, by now an established designer, he creates for the most important Italian houses, for Cole of California, and he works with Gimmo Etro on printed fabrics. His parallel research on cutting — ever more lightened — and on fabric is a constant of Albini’s work. Thanks to him a new relationship is established between the designer and the textle manufacturer, at long last equal in status, giving birth also to the new idea of “groupages” of advertising pages in specialized magazines.

His first proposal, to Montedoro, of the “uni-max” formula dates to the 1970s, when he suggested a uniformity of both cutting and colors for men and women. It is also the period of the famous Anagrafe collection, with eight brides in long pink dresses and eight widows in short black ones. The following season, for Misterfox, he created a Pre-Raphaelites Collection. It was an example of how he could bring his own cultural passions to fashion in an original way. He continued his work for Montedoro, designing loose-fitting men’s and women’s collections. He is by far the most celebrated and sought after Italian designer, but also the most intolerant of restrictions.

One of Albini’s creations.

The following collection was presented at Maremoda Capri. It showed how he mastered the art of combing cultural passion with fashion. Then he presented another collection called Rendez-vous, which was presented at Pitti and inspired by Art Deco with printed fabrics and embroidery-work.

FTM and Albini’s collections

By then, Walter was the most famous Italian designer. The FTM Group took up the distribution of his collections, designed with common elements in a single style for five separate fashion houses each specialized in a different product: jackets, knitwear, jersey, dresses, shirts. The houses were Basile, Escargots, Callaghan, Misterfox, and Diamant’s (replaced by Sportfox few months later). He obtained a complete line and presented it in Milan instead of Florence. Others who separated from Florence in this way weret Caumont, Ken Scott, Krizia, Missoni and Trell. It was the beginning of Italian prêt-à-porter. But while the international press called him “the new Italian star,” “as charismatic as Yves Saint-Laurent“, the Italian press proved to be myopic and provincial, as did the distribution system.

The end of the contract with Misterfox

Albini, disheartened, broke all his contracts but one. He continued his relationship with Misterfox and with them produced a new men’s and women’s line. It carried his name and was presented for the Spring-Summer season in London in 1973. It was the first appearance of a new formula that was later much imitated. There was a primary line with a strong and driving image, and a limited volume of sales. It was economically supported by a second and more simple Collection aimed at a larger market. Albini, who lived (and designed) like a character by F. Scott Fitzgerald, called it The Great Gatsby. This was the moment to create that unstructured jacket, the shirt-jacket (sometimes made of the same fabric as the shirt worn below), which was to be so important for the future of fashion in Italy.

The Autumn/Winter 1972 collection was a huge success for the first time a designer designed for five independent fashion houses simultaneously. In 1973, he opened his own showroom in Milan in via Pietro Cossa in a complete mirrored space where he put the Misterfox collection. In that same year he bought a house in Venice. There, at the Cafe Florian, he mounted a memorable show, presenting clothes which seemed to come out of a timeless dream. The show was later brought to New York.

The famous Anagrafe collection for Misterfox

His extraordinary creative talent was by now recognized all over the world. He was able to give form to his own personal dreams and to ideas found in the broader culture with a light touch. And yet, Albini didn’t receive enough support, he didn’t have a solid commercial organization behind him.

Then in 1974 he ended his collaboration with Misterfox and left the showroom.

The crisis of Albini

The crisis arrived in 1974-1975. Though his collections continued to amaze for the particular beauty of his creations, with their refined fabrics printed in patterns such as murrhines and paisley. In this way he relaunched the Kashmir-inspired prints which moved from fashion to home furnishings, with a success that lasted many seasons and still continues. Among the other famous patterns that he created, besides the stars, stripes, and dots, were faces, dancers, Scottish terriers, the zodiac, Madonnas, a hound’s-tooth design, and the giant Prince of Wales printed on silk and on velvet.

Total look by Albini

Creator of the total look, he embodied it first of all in a completely personal way. He identified his way of life with his creative style. Furnishing his houses to match his fashions and designing in similar style fabrics, objects, furniture, glassware and coordinated interiors for design magazines such as Casa Vogue. An excellent draftsman, when he skips a season, as in Autumn-Winter 1974-1975, he proposed, in a moment of reflection and as an alternative to the Collections, an exhibit of his sketches dating from 1962 on.

Importance of traveling

He travelled a lot, especially to India, the Far-East and Tunisia, where he bought a house in Sidi-fou-Said. The Collections that followed were inspired by those journeys. In 1975 he presented the first solo men’s collection, in this also anticipating the future. In January 1975, in Rome, was his first high fashion runway. It was in collaboration with Giuseppe Della Schiava, who manufactured the printed silks to one of his drawings. The collection was inspired by Chanel and the 1930s, his passions as ever. “High fashion is dead, long live high fashion,” he said, his ideas always against the trend. His second collection was totally in pink, inspired once again by Chanel and Poiret, while his prêt-à-porter collections for Trell were inspired by a revived “bon-ton,” contradicted the following season by an “urban guerilla” style.

Men’s collection

From time to time his men’s collections were presented by male friends and by female friends. This was to emphasize the unisex concept. Busts that narcissistically reproduced his own image, through life-size photographic portraits of himself made by all his photographer friends, and on panels carrying a mask reproducing his handsome face. Sometimes, polemically, the collections were reduced to a grouping of “robes trouvées”. This as if to state that what really counts is only the ars combinatoria (art of combining things). Once he dreamed up a scandalous exhibition of personalized phalluses dressed as a devil, Mickey Mouse, and Lawrence of Arabia, and also as Lagerfeld, Fabio Bellotti, and Saint-Laurent.

In 1978, he relaunched his own line Walter Albini in collaboration with Mario Ferrari. The collection was presented in front of 3,000 spectators in Milan at the Pallazzo Della Permanente. Then following this achievement, the Spring Summer 1979 collection was presented at the Rotonda della Besana. The end of the collaboration Albini-Ferrari was short and quick. After that, the designer continued to work for fashion houses but was not anymore motivated.

The style and the prints

The ever recurrent motif in his fashion was the style of the 1930s. With half-belt jackets, flat necks, large trousers, the shirt-jacket, sandals, two-toned shoes, Bermuda shorts, and later on sleeveless jackets, knitwear caps pulled down over the eyes, and the first heavy-duty boots. In the last years he worked with Helyette, Lanerossi and Peprose. He entrusted Collections bearing his own name to Marzo, a new company, but the manufacturers didn’t follow their instructions. Paolo Rinaldi, his most faithful working partner and press agent, was always at his side. In the early 1980s, the press, always concerned with “new entries,” ignored him.


Albini passed away in Milan at the age of 42 on May 31, 1983. He left behind an unforgettable lesson in style. It is to be studied again only after his death, in the light of his great achievement, nourishing his myth. The designer gave a vigorous push to Italian prêt-à-porter as an expression of design applied to fashion in an innovative way but with solid historical roots. He invented the new image of a woman wearing a jacket, trousers, or a shirtdress.

He again suggested that the revival is an intelligent form of research and reinvention, and used irony and dissent as a means of criticism. Additionally he affirmed the total look. Also he paid great attention to accessories and details. To him they were even more important than the dress itself, while adopting a maniacal perfectionism that was somehow detached and natural. Additionally he worked without holding anything back, but never in haste or roughly or with mediocrity. He never accepted compromises, a diminution of style, or restrictions imposed by the market.

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Dior, Christian


Ajour. French term meaning “in the daylight” used to describe open-work embroidery because it lets light pass through. Mostly seen on linen.

Ajour. French term meaning “in the daylight” used to describe open-work embroidery because it lets light pass through. Ajour embroidery is mostly seen on linen or as hemstitches on sheets, tablecloths and towels, it is used as a decoration on dresses, skirts and blouses.

Example of a dress with ajour embroidery.

It is made by first removing some threads from the fabric’s warp (the more threads removed, the higher the hemstitch). Then the weft threads are combined in small bunches using a slipknot thread to create an open-work hem. It is possible to create small groups using the different techniques (simple hemstitch, small lily stitch, etc.). This type of embroidery was very popular in the 1998 Collections of Missoni and Julien MacDonald.

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Armani, Misia


Missoni is a luxury Italian fashion house known for their colorful knitwear. The company was founded by couple, Ottavio (“Tai”) and Rosita Missoni, in 1953. Read more to discover the couple built a multi-million dollar luxury business.


  1. The Origin
  2. Missoni Style
  3. Recognitions
  4. The Next Generation
  5. Brand Expansion
  6. Missoni Celebrates 50 Years

The Origin

The company was founded by Ottavio (Tai) Missoni (1921) and his wife Rosita Jelmini (1931) in 1953, also the year they got married. They met in London during the 1948 Olympics. Ottavio was the Italian 400-meter running champion in 1938, world student champion in Vienna, and a finalist in the 400 meter hurdles. He also had a small firm in Trieste that produced tracksuits. The tiny Rosita, was young, but determined, and came with fashion experience gained. She gained this experience from her family’s firm, which produced shawls and linens for the home. The couple began with a small workshop in the basement of their home in Gallarate.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Missoni Ottavio and Rosita on the day of their Wedding April 18, 1953
Ottavio and Rosita on the day of their Wedding April 18, 1953

Their first client was the Biki boutique in Milan and then, in 1958, La Rinascente. Anna Piaggi was the first person to cite them in the press (Arianna, 1965), which also gave them their first cover in 1967. The first runway show, a collaboration with Emmanuelle Khanh, came in 1966. In 1967, they debuted at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, with a preview of the nude look. In 1969, they built the factory at Sumirago, with their house attached. Although, it was still a house and workshop, their success was by then worldwide. In 1970, Bloomingdale’s opened a Missoni corner in their New York headquarters.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Missoni Nude Look Runway Show at Palazzo Pitti in 1969
Missoni Nude Look Runway Show at Palazzo Pitti in 1969

Missoni Style

The same year marked the invention of the “put-together” look, a free casual mixture and juxtaposition of stitches and designs. This became the distinctive feature of the Missoni style. Also, mixed with patchwork, colored stripes, and the black-and-white and rainbow “flame motif.” These were followed by Greek key motifs, grids, Scottish checks, folklore designs, and especially abstract African designs.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Missoni Fabrics Displayed at MISSION ART COLOUR Exhibition
Fabrics Displayed at MISSION ART COLOUR Exhibition

Materials included knitwear, furs, felts, tweeds, and elasticized fabrics. The variable thickness, textures, technical inventions, and color combinations of the yearn link to abstract and informal art. Decorative elements were taken from Anglo-Saxon applied art, a careful evolution of forms, and above all freedom and joyful creativity. These are the elements that have turned Missoni into a way of life, and their garments loved objects. All their garments are flattering in shape, color, and substance.


Womens Wear Daily listed them among their top 20 Fashion Powers, and Vogue America among the top 10 European designers with the greatest influence on international clothing trends. In 1972, The New York Times wrote:

“Missoni makes the best knitwear in the world and, according to some people, the most beautiful fashions in the world.”

In 1973, Missoni was awarded the Neiman Marcus Award. It was the first in a long series of recognitions: The Tony Award in 1976; the Premio Italia in 1986; and the Pitti Immagine in 1994. Rosita received the International Design Award in New York; Ottavio was made a Cavaliere del Lavoro in 1993, received the Pitti Immagine award in 1994, followed by the Honorary Royal Designer for Industry honor in 1997 in London. Towards the mid-1970s, they added furnishing fabrics and household linen to their collections of knitwear, accessories and jewelry. Ottavio began to display his tapestries in art galleries, first in Venice and then throughout the rest of the world.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Missoni Ottavio Portrait in Office
Ottavio Missoni Portrait in Office

In 1976, the first boutique was opened in Milan: 5 more followed in Italy, 2 in Paris, 3 in Germany, 3 in Japan, another 5 in the Far East, and 1 in New York.

Missoni in the Arts

Ottavio, who always wears a sweater, is listed among the ten most elegant men in the world. Also, a flower and a star were named after Rosita. They were a highly viewed couple in the fashion world.

25 years of their work was celebrated, in 1978, at the Rotanda della Besana in Milan, with a retrospective that moved to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York two years later. In 1994, in Florence and later in Milan, the Missoni world was described in the exhibition, Missonologia. In 1995, Gallarate celebrated with the exhibition, The Ottavio and Rosita Story. In 1996, there were two exhibitions in Japan: at the Sazon Museum of Art and at the Nagoya City Museum. Missoni creations feature in the permanent collections of the MoMA in New York, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Museum of Costume in Bath. The Missoni pair have also designed costumes for the opera (Lucia di Lammermoor at La Scala in Milan, 1983) and for ballet (David Parsons Dance Company, 1994).

The Next Generation

In 1997, the first all-fabric collection was created, produced and distributed by Staff International. In 1998, Missoni M was presented for men and women, in collaboration with the Marzotto Group. In the same year, the Missoni company acquired a new headquarters, a 6-storey building in Via Durini, Milan. Rosita and Tai moved there with their children, to whom they passed on the firm in 1997, at the peak of a series of new successes, feted by the press and consumers for their exemplary faithfulness to their own style.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Missoni Family Portrait
Family Portrait

Angela (1958) became art director, responsible for style; Vittorio (1954) commercial director; and Luca (1954) technical director. Nine grandchildren make up the Missoni tribe, guaranteeing the future of the firm. And so the tradition continues, with strong family connotations and an artistic-artisanal character, which, despite its vast expansion and international success, has made the name of Missoni so loved, and not just in the worlds of fashion and culture.

In 2000 Luca Missoni presented his first menswear collection for winter 2001-2002. Knitwear is reinterpreted with superimposed graphics, stripes, zigzags that look like brushstrokes, and flame motifs. It was the fruit of continual research into textiles, stitches, weaves, and patterns that has always been a part of the history of Missoni and of fashion itself. The collection played on the contrast between dry, plain fabrics, and soft silks and luminous knits. For Spring-Summer 2002, faded colors, pierced cotton piquet, very light cashmeres.

Brand Expansion

Later, in December of 2001, the Missoni Sport shoe collection would officially be produced and distributed by Big Time. The license is worth more than €13 million. As for the rest of the production, Missoni announced,

“We will not create any more licenses. From 2002, we will produce and distribute the Missoni Sport line ourselves.”

Powerful investments were made in a 2,500 square-meter space near Samirago, dedicated entirely to the Sport line. The shops and corner spaces were also restructured. Within the brand, the search for new types of fabric and knitting techniques continued. The white, beige, and gray flame motif remained popular.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Missoni Fabrics
Popular Missoni Fabrics

In January 2003, after approximately 20 years of collaboration with Seibu, the company changed its Japanese distributor for its primary line. It signed a five-year distribution agreement with Kashiyama Onward, one of the largest textile industrials. Japan represents a market worth roughly €15 million and 25% of the brand’s business. The Missoni company closed 2002 with a turnover of about €130 million, which about €62 millions were made from its primary line. Also, new for 2003, celebrations for the company’s fiftieth anniversary, marked by two exhibitions, one in Milan and the other in Tokyo. Also, the opening of a new 70 square-meter boutique inside Harrods in London.

In April 2003 the new showroom was opened in Via Solferino in Milan. The building was an umbrella factory in the late nineteenth century, it is situated at the end of a courtyard in the historic center. Vittorio Missoni explained that the location is perfect, not just to present the different lines but also for shows, exhibitions, and other types of event. The former-factory belonged to distant relatives of Rosita’s grandparents.

Missoni Celebrates 50 Years

In May 2003 Missoni celebrated 50 years in business with a large runway show in the Town Hall square in Vienna, for the opening of the 11th Life Ball, a traditional charity evening held to raise funds to combat HIV/Aids. Later, in June the menswear collection, which represents roughly a third of the company’s turnover, was relaunched, focusing primarily on the development of accessories. In 2002, Missoni made €51 million on direct sales, compared to €48 millions the previous year. Exports (main markets Japan, USA, and Germany) accounted for more than 85% of the entire business. Alongside multi-brand stores, the company owns 12 directly controlled own-brand boutiques and about one hundred franchises.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Missoni Celebrates 50 Years
Missoni Celebrates 50 Years

In June 2003 at Milano Moda Uomo, Luca Missoni presented his collection: knitwear with a thousand colors mixed together, tight, micro polo necks in cotton crêpes printed with lozenges, sweaters in viscose and tulle. Including, cardigans with large, ostentatious zigzags, very light vests in linen thread, in a small net weave, or interspersed with lurex threads, transparent tops that simulate tattoos, and sweater-shirts in silk and lamé for evening wear.

In July 2003 fashion and design for the Japanese car Mazda, the sponsor of the AltaRoma runway shows. After the series of MX-5 sports cars, with exclusive interiors in numbered series, Missoni created the colors and interiors of the latest MX-5, made as a one-off and sold in an online auction to raise funds for AISM (Italian Multiple Sclerosis Association). The fashion house celebrated its first half century.

Through November 2003, the celebrations continued and new Spring-Summer 2004 collection was presented in Tokyo, at the Yoyogi National Stadium. In addition, Tai and Rosita displayed more than a hundred outfits from the retrospective held in Milan the previous month, including the very famous blue tracksuit marked “Italia,” by Ottavio for the national athletics team in 1948, and the first gold Lurex suit from a far-off 1958. Japan, which represents a fifth of the company’s turnover, loves the Italian style and the event attracted 3,000 people.

Recent Years

January 2004, a contract was signed with Pagnossin, the head of the Richard Ginori 1735 group. It created the license for a line of tableware and household objects designed by Rosita, part of the Missoni Home project. Later, in April the third Golden Dame Award is held at the Poldi Pezzoli museum in Milan. “The people who make Milan great” include Ottavio and Rosita Missoni. The license for the production and distribution of the spectacles and sunglasses lines was agreed with Silvio Vecellio Reane (Allison, It. Holding Group), for a five-year period. Later, in September the license linking the company and the Marzotto Group was renewed until 2010. The launch of a women’s perfume signed by Estée Lauder was announced for Spring 2006.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Missoni Home Project
Home Project

The Universal Expo 2005 is held in Aichi, Japan, and Tai was invited to represent the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. The stand includes the installation “Harmony from Diversity.” The work consists of mannequins “dressed” completely in patchwork knitwear and was the result of collaboration between Ottavio and Luca Missoni (Tai and Rosita’s second son) and the designer Angelo Figus. Later, in March the first Missoni shop in Catania was opened. Also, The Aramis and Designer Fragrances division of Estée Lauder and Missoni create a license that enables the beauty colossus to produce and distribute the perfume line.

In November 2005 Missoni signed a licensing agreement with Rezidor Hotel Group in order to create Missoni Hotel chain. The idea was to open 20 hotels around the world under Missoni trade mark. However, the agreement was terminated in 2014 and the two hotels under Missoni name, one in Edinburg and one in Kuwait, were rebranded and stayed as a property of Carlson Rezidor.

Current Situation

In September 2011 Missoni made a 400-piece collection in collaboration with Target. The collection was sold out in one day. Considering great success of the first collection Missoni collaborated with Target again in 2014, this time with Target Australia. Due to high interest for the collection, Target’s website was down on the day of launch.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Missoni Collection for Target
Missoni Collection for Target

2013 was a hard year for the whole Missoni family, Vittorio Missoni, CEO of the brand, died in an airplane accident near the coast of Venezuela. Then, 4 months later his father and creator of the brand, Ottavio Missoni, died in his sleep.

In April of 2015 MA*GA Museum in Gallarate (VA) is dedicating the exhibition MISSONI, L’ARTE, IL COLORE to Ottavio and Rosita Missoni. This exhibition created a dialogue with twentieth-century European art. the exhibition explored the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of a great Italian fashion house. The extraordinary culture and brilliance of its two founders.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Missoni Exhibition MISSION, ART, COLOUR at The Fashion and Textile Museum in London
Exhibition MISSION, ART, COLOUR at The Fashion and Textile Museum in London

Also, in May of 2016 The Fashion and Textile Museum hosted the exhibition MISSONI, ART, COLOUR, in partnership with The Woolmark Company. It explores the influence of 20th-century European art on Missoni’s fashion and textile designs

In 2017 Missoni created a capsule activewear collection for luxury e-commerce site The collection include six pieces, created by Angela Missoni and the face of the campaign is Jennifer Missoni, Angela’s niece. On the last Fall Winter 2017 collection Angela Missoni gave a speech after the fashion show, reminding people to embrace unity, human rights, and family. She stated that pink is the new black, and walked with her whole family who are key representatives of Missoni’s knit unity.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Missoni 2017 Fashion Show Pink Pussy Hats to Support Womens Rights
2017 Fashion Show Pink Pussy Hats to Support Womens Rights