In Rosita Missoni’s villa at the foot of the Italian Alps

Just above Rosita Missoni’s bed is an Impressionist-style oil painting by 20th-century French artist Jacques-Henri Lartigue. Set in a gold frame, it features a garden scene of vibrant red, white and orange flowers and takes up almost the entire wall. That matriarch Missoni, who co-founded the namesake Italian fashion house – best known for its rainbow-colored, herringbone-patterned knits – with her husband, Ottavio Missoni, in 1953, sleep under a piece so bold and vibrant makes a lot of sense. The piece also pairs well with the Missoni patchwork quilt, which consists of cotton triangles printed with orange, pink and purple stripes, which covers the bed itself.

Art, flowers and fabrics are layered throughout the house, a modern and airy two-story villa in Sumirago, about 30 miles northwest of Milan. Rosita and Ottavio (abbreviated by his family as Tai) built the house in 1971, a few years after inaugurating the still operating Missoni knitwear factory located just a minute’s walk away, at the end of a wooded path. “We wanted to live all the time we would have liked to spend our weekends,” says Rosita of this green hollow at the foot of the Italian Alps. She especially liked that the property offers a view of Monte Rosa, which she could also see from her childhood home in the nearby town of Golasecca and at 90 years old she still finds so lovely. “Most of the time I wake up and take a photo of the mountain,” she says, scrolling her camera past dozens of photos of the rose-tinted summit. Then, before heading to her workshop at the factory, she could stroll through the grounds and garden of the property – a gently sloping lawn surrounded by tall flowering trees and bushes – cutting coral peonies and pale pink dogwood flowers as you go. “I love all flowers except the white ones,” she says, standing next to a neon magenta azalea. “I need to be surrounded by colors.”

Back inside, in the glass-enclosed dining room overlooking the garden, Rosita arranges the stems with an expert eye, plucks the petals damaged by recent frost, but says, “Tai was the real gardener. Once in our old house, I went on a week-long trip to New York and came back to see hundreds of new plants on the patio. He had created an entire jungle. Ottavio is at the forefront of the Missoni family’s consciousness these days, as 2021 would have marked his 100th birthday and his 68th wedding anniversary with Rosita. Later, in the den, she shows a photograph, taken moments before her death in 2013, of the couple’s hands clasped over a quilt. Indeed, much of the household talks about their time together – as spouses, parents, grandparents and business partners. Rosita first met him at the 1948 London Olympics – he was a track and field competitor and she was a loving spectator. They married in 1953 and soon after began producing knit tracksuits, which led to their first ready-to-wear line in 1958. International fame came in the late 1960s when editors like Diana Vreeland and Anna Piaggi began to defend their designs.

“He was nice… sympathetic! ”Rosita says of Ottavio, who was known for the lively parties he threw for their cabal of creative friends, one of the sources of the house’s treasures. Take the paint-stained palette offered to the couple by Balthus who hangs in the living room. As the story goes, for many years Balthus was offered a different Missoni cardigan by a dear friend every Christmas. When the friend died, the artist went straight to at the source and a new friendship between him and Rosita and Ottavio blossomed. In the living room is also a Murano glass tea set by Piaggi. Perched at the top of the display case housing the ensemble is a brass wreath by interior designer Eva Gunderson, who worked closely with Missoni for several years, which is country-style decorated with some of Rosita’s favorite things: another photo of Ottavio; loops of thread Missoni pink and orange and Missoni ora ribbon nge, the same kind that Rosita ties at the end of her long braid; and shellfish illustrations – in her youth she was a committed diver and often dived for tartufo di mare clams off the Dalmatian coast.

But nostalgia is not the main driving force of the house. Rosita continued to collect on her own and is known as a staple at art fairs across Europe. Some of her favorite works around the house are a painting of a ballerina by Italian futurist Gino Severini who sits in the living room and another of preening parrots by her futuristic colleague Fortunato Depero which hangs in front of the patio door. Upstairs in her bedroom are sketches by early 20th-century pioneer artist Sonia Delaunay, whose quilts and vivid, cubist-adjacent oil paintings feel like an artistic and spiritual predecessor. evident from Rosita’s own creative work.

Although she no longer oversees Missoni’s ready-to-wear collections – her daughter, Angela, took over in 1997 and resigned in May of this year – Rosita remains the Creative Director of Missoni Home, the home decor arm. and furnishings by Missoni’s color. universe forward. In September, she will showcase Missoni Home’s latest collection at Milan’s Salone del Mobile after the one-and-a-half-year design fair was shut down due to the pandemic.

Although much has changed for the family in the 50+ years since Rosita and Ottavio moved to Sumirago, the house remains the home of the family. It’s the de facto venue for birthday parties and celebrations, when all four Missoni generations are in attendance and the house’s floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors are open, with overflowing revelers, glasses of wine. and plates of risotto in hand, on the patio and lawn. “People meet in all parts of the house,” says Rosita. Fittingly, her most favorite work of art in the house is an iron sculpture that sits on the entrance table of an oversized man pushing Alice in Wonderland style out of the way. ‘a house. “I bought it for Tai for her 80th birthday,” she says. “I always told him, ‘This house is too small for you.’ Because he always wanted to be outside. The couple were regulars, for example, at Milan’s La Scala opera house, and designed the costumes – purple knits and red tartans – for the 1983 theater. production of “Lucia di Lammermoor” by Gaetano Donizetti with Luciano Pavarotti. But, despite having an apartment in Milan, Rosita insists they never spent a single night there, always choosing to return to Sumirago after the event they attended, even if that meant that ‘They wouldn’t get there until the wee hours of the morning. . “Tai liked to say, ‘It’s not about where you fall asleep,’ she recalls, ‘but where you wake up. “

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