“Let colour and rhythm dominate”: the exhibition certainly
does, from the frenzied patterns of the huge 70s wall hangings to the
disorientating light installation. In the central room of the show catwalk-esque
spotlights flash periodically on and off, illuminating forty mannequins wearing
These mannequins are the centrepiece of the show, displayed
on a tiered diagonal that mimics the bias cut of a fabric, or the chevrons on a
They show forty iconic looks from Missoni’s collections: we
have the knitted bathing suit and the ever-so-slightly more practical knitted
suit. The clothing is beautiful, the patterning of the wool revolutionary for
its time, and its displayed as an aesthetically harmonious whole.
This exhibition does not set out to show Missoni’s style
evolution, or show how collections move between themes. Missoni fashion is
presented as a body of consistent work that is firmly rooted in Italian mid-century
Leading up to and away from the central mannequin display,
the walls are lined with works that take us on a journey through Italian
concrete, abstract and conceptual art, with pattern at its heart. This is a
multimedia show of sculpture, film, clothes, textiles, light installations as
well as traditional oils.
It is sometimes a stretch to equate fashion design with
modern art but the exhibition works hard to draw parallels between the two,
exhibiting a number of Ottavio Missoni’s inspirations. Ultimately, it’s not the
clothes themselves but Missoni’s fabric swatches and pencil drawings that come
closest to mirroring the Italian abstract art on display here.
Ottavio Missoni was also an artist, and there are a number of
his own acrylic works on show - they look a bit like London Underground posters
but they fit well thematically alongside other works of Italian modern art.
However, his art is not as visually stimulating as the clothes, or the giant
wall hangings that cushion the space around the main room.
Sonia Delaunay, one of Ottavio Missoni’s favourite artists, is
represented here by two of her smaller works. There are larger, textured oils
from the concrete art movement and a very nice colourful oil by Nino Salvadori,
‘Spatial structure in tension’.
Another famous influence, Lucio Fontana, has two canvases on
display. Fontana is notorious for slashing his canvases- you can see a larger one
in the Tate permanent collection- but it is hard to see how his dramatic
conceptual work relates to Missoni here.
The final room, The Missoni Room, offers an immersive
experience of Missoni textures in the museum’s fashion studio, with mirrors and
jazzy fabric providing a fitting tribute to the brand.
This exhibition was originally shown in Milan in 2015 and
was twice as large, with over 100 works and 100 outfits. It is a shame that
only a scaled-down version fits into the Textile Museum space.
Scaled down or no, a Missoni exhibition was always going to
be a visual feast- a proliferation of photogenic, colourful art and fashion.
For fashion lovers wanting wardrobe inspiration, it’s well worth a trip.
|What||Missoni Art Colour|
|Where||Fashion and Textile Museum, 83 Bermondsey St, London, SE1 3XF | MAP|
|Nearest tube||London Bridge (underground)|
06 May 16 – 28 Aug 16, 12:00 AM
|Price||£6 - £9.90|
|Website||Click here to book via the Fashion and Textile Museum|