Objects are useful in telling our stories: preserving them means safeguarding the past in order to inform a more conscious legacy. Many of the institutions and archives that, in Europe, have taken up the role of ‘gatekeepers of heritage’ have decided to share their collections, allowing a wider audience to get access to what for years has been hidden away or privately kept. The Missoni Archive was amongst the first institutions that understood the global cultural relevance of the materials it preserves: the history of the brand is useful to understand history at large, and this is why it is central to retrace it, understand it, and share it.
We are thrilled to announce Luca Missoni as one of the 'Ambassadors of Change’ in the Europeana XX project: an initiative aiming to retrace the twentieth century and its social, political and economic changes through archival documents available on Europeana. A supporter of the Europeana project since the very start, Luca Missoni opened the door of the archive he directs, dedicated to the preservation and valorisation of the history behind the brand his parents, Ottavio and Rosita Missoni, founded back in 1953.
The conversation revolved around three main themes, each one informing one episode of the series. The first, titled Of the Same Stripe: Values, Business, Family, focuses on the idea of family as a defining feature of Missoni, as well as an interesting characteristic of most Italian fashion houses. Retracing the story of his family, from the encounter of his parents in London to the set-up of the brand, Luca Missoni unveils how the path of the brand and that of the family are inextricably linked to one another. The same spirit that animated Rosita and Ottavio Missoni fuels the creative process of the brand today, and defines its identity. Luca also deals with the underlying meaning of being an Italian fashion brand, and how the creative and productive approach of Missoni was central in the definition of Italian - and global - prêt-à-porter.
In Strong Ties: Art, Technology, Fashion, the second episode of the series, Luca Missoni ties together the main areas in which Missoni moves. The importance of art, both as inspiration and as practice, which influenced the definition of the early codes of the brand: stripes and colours. Technology is present from the ideation stage all the way through to the physical craft, as a tool to turn intuition into reality and abstract motifs into a wearable knitwear, abiding by the rules of comfort as well as of fashion and style.
This conversation happened in the space of the Missoni Archive, of which Luca is Artistic Director. Naturally, talking about the history of the family and of the brand through archival objects prompted the final theme of the series: heritage and preservation. Archiving Memories, Crafting Heritage critically considers the experience of having a physical archive, its uses and challenges, and also reflects on the process of digitisation, the decision to share cultural heritage, and allow people from all over the world to study and enjoy it.
The experiences described by Luca Missoni are truly invaluable in understanding what it means to be involved, day after day, in the valorisation of the heritage of a brand that is also the history of his own family; his words also highlight the importance in carefully editing the ‘traces’ history leaves behind, and allow to turn them into something that can induce innovation, creativity and reflection.
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