Fashion and Textile Museum
6 May – 4 September 2016
By Josie Mills and Dieneke Ferguson
This was an outstanding exhibition which was expertly curated, something the Fashion and Textile Museum is getting a reputation for and worthy of its founder Zandra Rhodes. The Museum is also beautifully located in Bermondsey Village, in a fantastic building designed by Mexican architect Ricardo Legoretto.
The Fashion and Textile Museum is the first overseas venue to host Missoni Art Colour, which showcases the creative process of knitting artwork into fashion forms. Missoni was the very first company ever to apply unique and beautiful designs to knitwear and combine craft expertise, materials and the latest design trends.
Celia Joicey, Director of the Fashion and Textile Museum, said:
“This is the first major exhibition to explore the iconic Missoni fashion house. The mix between fashion and art is always exciting, and this show highlights the important dialogue between post-war Italian artists, designers and industry. “
The exhibition is organised by the MA*GA Art Museum in collaboration with Missoni and The Woolmark Company.
The presentation of the exhibition is in five key sections:
This section features the avant-garde artworks that inspired Ottavio and Rosita Missoni when founding their business. It helped set the atmosphere and create the link between 20th century culture and the creative process behind the Missoni business.
A particularly striking piece of artwork, ‘Ambiguity Composition’ by Atanasio Soldati (1951), exemplifies the link behind 20th century art and Missoni, in bold and colourful prints. Indeed, Soldati’s work was characterised by simple geometric forms with intense colour combinations
Perhaps the most visually stunning display of the exhibition was the Missoni Style room, otherwise known as ‘Le forme della moda’, The Forms of Fashion. The installation showcased key Missoni garments dating from 1953 to 2014. 42 mannequins were displayed in a triangular shape to reveal the elasticity, elegance, subtle use of colour and softness of knitted yarn; the principal Missoni stylistic feature.
Passion for Material
This section highlighted the ‘Missoni Arazzi’, the knitted wall hangings created by Ottavio Missoni from the 1970s.
Covering the walls of the installation room were large wall hangings, made from knitted patchwork. Ottavio Missoni used the wall hangings as the focus for his artistic expression. They became a way of merging his interest in colour and fabric with both fashion and art, and from that research Ottavio underpinned how the creation of unique garments could be applied to a new art form. Ottavio Missoni said: ‘As for my patchworks, they are a natural extension of my work…each single one deserves particular attention since it has a story and life of its own’
Here the dialogue between post-war Italian art and the designs of the fashion house. Work by the great masters of Italian abstract art with the optical and kinetic experimentation of the 1970s and 80s, provides a fresh interpretation of the studies and sketches produced by Ottavio Missoni.
It tells the story of how Ottavio’s inspiration from 20th century artwork led to his initial ideas and sketching’s for the Missoni garments. Framed sketches and knitted samples adorned the walls that showed clear expression and interest in colour and bold prints.
As Luca Missoni stated ‘there is experimentation, the repetitive process of infinite research, the obsession that builds experience. It is the art of creating a fabric’. It is this ‘obsession’ and ‘experimentation’ that you comprehend from the Dialogues installation from the variety and breadth of colours and patterns displayed through knit samples and sketches.
The Missoni Room
This consisted of an immersive installation of Missoni textures. A running video was projected onto the walls which showed Ottavio and Rosita Missoni discussing their passions and creations. Surrounding the room were Missoni patterns in large frames and rugs. It showed the culmination of the creative process, inspiration and research that defines the Missoni brand.
Well worth a visit.