For the scion of one of the most fashionable families in Italy and a budding actress, Margherita Missoni is refreshingly down to earth. When a reporter admires her green and brown silk pullover worn with brown pants and strappy snakeskin Louboutins, she smiles and announces, “It’s on sale!”
Visiting San Diego recently, Margherita, 23, is quite serene as she chats before the showing of the Missoni spring line presented by Nordstrom to benefit the Center for Community Solutions. Her uncle Vittorio and his wife, Maurizia, also came to town for the event at Joan Waitt’s La Jolla home.
“I never considered fashion something glamorous or special,” says Margherita, who grew up in the countryside near Milan. “For me fashion was a part of normal life.”
While Missoni’s zigzag flame stitch, multi-hued striped, and body conscious knit designs are de rigeur at any luxury boutique or department store, Margherita says her grandparents Ottavio and Rosita were taking a risk when they launched a high-end knitwear brand in 1953.
“It was quite revolutionary to make knitwear something in a department store,” she says, sipping a glass of Santa Margherita pinot grigio.
Their signature way of blending colors evolved out of necessity. Her grandparents only had one knitting machine, used to make bi-color fringe on antique-style shawls. They retooled it to create garments with colorful stripes and zigzags.
Margherita is the face of the line as well as the eponymous fragrance created by Estee Lauder, and devoted to the charity OrphanAid Africa, which helps vulnerable children in Ghana.
Her mother, Angela, is now the designer — she says her mother is always seeking inspiration
from parties, art galleries, and flea markets.
“In any creative job you get inspired by people and flowers and fabric and whatever you see and hear and smell,” Margherita says. “You can’t sit around. You use your brain, go out, and see a lot.’’
Daring to be different and doing what they know best has helped build Missoni into the iconic and enduring brand that it is today.
“We have a very recognizable style and we have a niche, so if you look for that, you are going to go and get a Missoni,” she says. “Nobody does that better than us and that’s what will
keep us alive.” MARIA C. HUNT