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16 July 2023–21 January 2024

The Exhibition

In 1966, Ottavio and Rosita Missoni presented the first MISSONI fashion show at Teatro Gerolamo in Milan with young French designer Emmanuelle Khanh. It is a collection that breaks with the traditional patterns of using knitwear, which for the first time is used as a fabric to make practical and comfortable garments for any occasion. It is the advent of Italian prêt-à-porter: in 1967 the first cover of Arianna, of which Anna Piaggi was fashion editor with Anna Riva, and in 1968 the first international cover of Elle France. While Rosita obtains the first recognitions in international fashion, Ottavio continues experimenting with knitting machines. From striped knit fabrics it evolves towards more complex graphics such as frets and zigzags. In 1968, a cover of Grazia featured the multicolored Missoni zigzag which in the collective imagination would become the emblematic element of the Maison. The one between Rosita and Ottavio is a winning combination. The same year, the famous director of American Vogue Diana Vreeland saw their creations in Rome and invited them to New York, where in 1970 they presented their collections to the most important buyers and the entire Vogue editorial team. Vreeland herself will say of them: “These people are geniuses!”. In 1970 the Missonis broke the mold again by presenting a very successful collection in Florence, giving way to a new graphic interpretation of dressing for women and also for men. Missoni Style asserts itself, which Americans will call 'put-together', for which in 1973 they obtain the Neiman Marcus Fashion Award, the Oscar of Fashion.

In 1978, on the occasion of the 25th year of activity of MISSONI, Alfa Castaldi paid homage to them with a reprint of 22 images chosen from fashion photographic services he made in the studio between 1967 and 1970, documenting in fact the first affirmations of Missoni Style: the first experiments with knit-fabric and jacquard, with mesh and zigzag work, experiments with dyed slub yarns, printed jersey and nude-look flocking.

Photo credits: Archivio Alfa Castaldi

The Artist

Considered one of the fathers of Italian fashion photography, Alfa Castaldi (pseudonym of Alfonso Castaldi, 1926 - 1995) is part of that group of creatives who documented the transformation of Italian cultural life in the 1960s and the affirmation in the world of made in Italy.
Frequenter of the legendary Giamaica café in Milan, in the mid-1950s he began his career as a photographer documenting new artistic expressions, writers, cinema characters and culture in the broadest sense. In 1958 he met Anna Piaggi, a journalist and fashion editor, with whom he married in New York in 1962. It was thanks to her that Alfa met Ottavio and Rosita Missoni, one of the main pioneers of Italian pret-à-porter, and began to photograph their creations. His elegant and at the same time spontaneous works will become part of the annals of Italian and international photography.

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