Angela Missoni Q&A: The zig-zag road to success

Angela Missoni, creative director of the iconic fashion house Missoni, flew to Dubai this week to open the brand’s newly refurbished boutique in Mall of the Emirates. Ahead of the store’s unveiling Missoni revealed why super-soft furnishing are in and clinical lines are out.

Angela Missoni helms the family business that has been at the forefront of the fashion industry for more than 60 years. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
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She’s generous with her time, softly spoken and incredibly warm. Angela Missoni doesn’t live up to the stereotype of your average creative director, but then, Missoni, the iconic company she helms, is not your average luxury label. Ahead of cutting the ribbon on a refurbishment in Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates boutique, Missoni talks success and succession.

You've recently renovated flagship boutiques in Milan and Paris and now Dubai. What's different?

They’ve been refurbished with a new direction and it’s a concept that I really love. The atmosphere is very warm, as are the materials used. We’re getting away from only using clean lines and instead using many different textures and materials. It’s a warm welcome.

So your stores are becoming less corporate and more cosy?

Yes, that’s exactly right, because we’re a cosy company.

How has your spring/summer 2015 collection been received in the UAE?

It’s already had a great run. It’s almost sold out, which is good news. Then there’s the show collection, which will hit the stores in a few days. It’s a silhouette I specifically wanted for the summer: long skirts, long dresses, turbans for women, flat shoes and big men’s shirts. The collection is as light as a feather and easy flowing. I’ve used knits, light silks and, to add structure to some jackets, trenches or vests, I’ve used the finest nylon tulle. The colours are mostly pale, with some accents of turquoise, yellow, raspberry and lavender blue.

What are bestsellers for Missoni in this region?

Dresses, in particular the ones that are transferable from day to night. The dresses travel very well and are perfect for every occasion. Of course, the kaftans sell well, too. They’re the ones I started doing almost 15 years ago and I make sure there are new ones in each season’s collection.

Who is the Missoni woman?

I like to think she loves life. She’s very busy and needs comfortable, practical clothes. She would never allow a dress to wear her. To look your best you need to feel it. For a woman to be constantly readjusting her bustier straps or pulling down a skirt that’s too short is not appealing.

Missoni has been in business for more than 60 years. Seeing as so many family businesses fail after a few generations, what’s the secret to your success?

I think it’s really because my parents “invented something” – a specific style. That’s probably the rarest thing in this business. People always ask me: “How do you manage to keep Missoni relevant?” And I think it’s because I’ve never been scared to add new lexicon to the language my parents created. For me, they’ve always been inventors and experimenters and that’s what I’ll continue to be.

Is there any truth to you wanting to step down from your role in the coming years?

No, there are many things I’d still like to fix and I’m wearing many hats besides just being creative director right now. I am very happy that my daughter Margherita is helping me on the creative side but having had one child, and being pregnant now with the second one, she’s taking some time out. Of course, my other daughter Theresa – and many others – are helping out, too, but I think there are many years to go before I’ll get to the stage of stepping down. It’s both my choice and also necessity.

When you say things you’d “like to fix” what might they be?

Ah no, well not in the sense of anything being broken, but Missoni is an old company and some sections might need attention.And when you think about what’s happened in the past 20 years – during my era – I’ve seen companies coming, revamping and going – and we are still here. We’re a very small, artisanal company and I want to assure our future in the best way possible.

You still regard Missoni as niche despite your six decades of global success?

Absolutely we are niche, but we have a big name so there are many chances to develop the company further still – albeit in a very Missoni way. So how to do that is what’s running through my mind right now. I want the brand to stay alive and be creatively productive for the next 20 years and beyond.

Visit Missoni at its new flagship store in Dubai's Mall of the Emirates and at Boutique 1 outlets across the UAE