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25 May 2024

Missoni: putting the UAE on the fashion map

By Primrose Skelton



Missoni is one of the leading names in the fashion industry. Its president, Vittorio, is visiting the UAE to attend Abu Dhabi fashion week. Organisers hope the line-up will place the event on the international calendar and cement the emirate as a cultural hub of the Middle East. Many big name designers will be showcasing their latest collections
The people of the Emirates have long had affection for high-end fashion and designer goods. But over the past couple of years there has been a surge in big-name designers coming to the UAE to showcase their latest collections.

Starting tomorrow Abu Dhabi will welcome the likes of Vittorio Missoni, Laudomia Pucci, Maria Luisa Trussardi, and Giuseppe Rossi (Calvin Klein) to open Abu Dhabi Fashion Week. The backers hope that using the organiser of the Milan fashion week – Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana – as a partner will help place the event on the international calendar and cement Abu Dhabi as a new hub for the fashion industry. Vittorio Missoni, 63, the President of the iconic Italian fashion house Missoni, spoke to Emirates Business on the eve of his first trip to the capital.

How did you get involved in the fashion business?
I am the son of Rosita and Ottavio Missoni who founded the label in 1953. It began as a small fashion studio in the basement of their house in Sumirago, a little town near Milan and has grown and grown to what it is today. My sister Angela and my brother Luca are also involved in the family business. Angela is the force behind the women’s label and Luca is the creative director of the menswear collections and Missoni Sport.

You have been going strong for over 50 years with a 2006-2007 turnover of €150 million (Dh858m). How have you done it?
We are a family run business and that helps keep our product the way we want it. We base our principles on tradition, but have also moved with the times creating pieces that are modern, but also classic. Angela has been very involved in making the brand what it is today. She reinvented the styles, taking a different approach but yet stayed in keeping with the focus of Missoni, which is all about the fabrics, colours prints and above all quality. It is very important to continue the iconic status we have built up and that means never compromising on anything.

What brings you to the UAE and why did you decide to show your latest collection here, just weeks after presenting it at Milan Fashion Week?
I work alongside Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (The National Chamber for Italian Fashion). Part of its work is to protect, co-ordinate and strengthen its image, both in Italy and abroad. As soon as I heard about Abu Dhabi fashion week I was keen to get involved. As the company’s vice-president I wanted to see how we could promote Italian fashion and cement good relations with the UAE. We are presenting the very latest collection in Abu Dhabi, which will be the first time it has been seen outside Italy. I think Abu Dhabi is a great opportunity for us.

Do you think designer wear is a good investment?
I think certain pieces are, and vintage Missoni is definitely worth a lot now. When somebody buys Missoni, whether it’s a dress, a top or a piece of jewellery, they know they are buying a little story, it is not just a nice colour, a fashionable item, it is something that has history and tradition and will not be fashionable today and out tomorrow. You are buying something that is going to last for a long time and that is an investment in my eyes.

As well as clothes, accessories and fragrances you also have an interiors collection. Tell us more about that and your other projects including the Dubai boutique hotel, which is due to open in 2009.
We launched our home collection in 2001 and that is now a core part of the Missoni brand. To complement that we are opening three Hotel Missoni’s in Dubai, Kuwait and Edinburgh, with the first opening in Kuwait later this year. We believe hotels are an extension of our company and, of course, the designs will be in keeping with Missoni.

In the current economic climate how is the fashion industry fairing?
We have not seen a downturn in the luxury sales market as yet and we will continue to produce high-quality, exclusive wear. Because we are a small company we have more control of our finances and our profits are still good.

PROFILE: Vittorio Missoni, President, Missoni

Missoni was founded in Milan, by Vittorio’s mother and father Rosita and Ottavio Missoni. He began travelling after high school spending time in England and the United States. While perfecting his English in London he worked for a leading fashion label and subsequently in the marketing division of a major department store in New York. In the 1970s he introduced Missoni to the Far East and expanded it to America and Europe. In full partnership with his two siblings Vittorio ensures the identity of the company lives on. In his spare time he loves hanging out with his three sons, Ottavio, Giacomo and Marco, riding his motorbike, sea fishing and reading the works of Ernest Hemingway.