The head of one of fashion’s last family-owned businesses has long found inspiration close to home.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Angela Missoni has helmed the Missoni company for more than two decades – and the perfectionism that has kept the family-owned fashion brand thriving is in clear evidence the day we meet. Even though our interview has been scheduled to begin, the president and creative director of the luxury house keeps bustling about the brand’s new Marina Bay Sands store, making last-minute tweaks before guests arrive for its launch party that evening. When she is finally satisfied that the boutique – the first fully family-operated one in Asia – is up to standard, she sweeps into the plush changing room where I have been comfortably ensconced. White wine in hand, she is charming and sweetly apologetic.

One can hardly fault her for being unrelentingly hands-on. Missoni, founded by Angela’s parents, Ottavio and Rosita Missoni, in 1953, is very much a family business. Her daughter Margherita is the creative director of recently reabsorbed diffusion line, M Missoni. Missoni Home, created in 1983, is headed by matriarch Rosita. This familial thread is woven tightly into Angela’s designs for the label. She says: “I’ve always made it a point to dress different generations. You can have a passion for fashion and a love for dress at any age. It’s not age, it’s style. My mother is 88 and I take a picture of her every day. She’s so inspiring, the way she dresses.”

In this family, style does not just pass through a matriarchal line. Angela has overseen both her brand’s women’s and men’s collections since 1998 – and has long found inspiration for the latter close to home. Taking a sip of wine, she notes: “My father was the epitome of the Missoni man. He was, in his own way, always cool and elegant. Margherita found an article about my father from the early ’80s where he said, ‘In the future, everybody will be wearing sneakers and tracksuits.’ Comfort was always the first thing for him. He started with knitwear – so there’s always an idea of comfort, of effortlessness in the DNA of Missoni.” 

With family businesses such as Missoni becoming a rarity in the fashion industry, it’s no surprise that an innocuous comment she made about the company’s potential IPO quickly made headlines worldwide. She explains: “I was in London five days ago for the launch of the book [Missoni: The Great Italian Fashion], and the interviewer asked me [about Missoni going public]. I said, ‘We’re not going to be ready to talk about that for three or four years.’ But the day after, the news went everywhere. It’s probably going to happen in the future, but let’s see.”

For now, she’s focused on growing the brand steadily, one new boutique at a time. “At the moment, we are still organising the company. We are investing in stores, as you can see here. Next year, we will invest in three or four stores in China. We’re not in China at all, which is interesting, because some of the brands there are already old, and we will be fresh, a new brand with a long history, with real storytelling.”