The Story of Missoni’s aquatic show at Piscina Solari
Settings: Piscina Solari, Milan, December 1967
Leading actors: The Missonis or to put it with Suzy Menkes’s words “the essence of Italian fashion — as the Italians would like to view themselves: a mom-and-pop show that grew into a global empire with the second and third generations integrated as seamlessly as random-pattern into knits” (in Missoni’s family mosaic)
Plot: 1967 was a crucial year for the freshly born label of Rosita and Ottavio Missoni. The couple was first invited to present their new collection at Palazzo Pitti in Florence. Realizing too late that the underwear chosen was not matching the geometry of the clothes, Rosita sent out the models without any. Under the bright lights of the room the clothes became transparent, accidentally creating a nude look that sent the photographers into a snapping frenzy.This caused a little scandal and the Missonis were not invited back until 1970. This temporary setback turned out to be a great opportunity as they presented the Spring/Summer collection in December 1967 at the Solari swimming pool in Milan with a spectacular aquatic show. The new designs were worn by models floating on the water sitting on futuristic inflatable armchairs and sofas pushed around by swimming champions. The avant-garde furniture pieces that were perfectly fitting the cutting-edge atmosphere of the show, were created by Vietnamese designer Quasar Khanh, husband of Emannuelle Khanh with whom Missoni had launched a collaboration the former year. This presentation was one of the very few in the history of fashion in which pieces of interior design were used during a fashion show. Closed with a collective swim in the pool and with Quasar Khanh greeting the audience from a gigantic floating house, the event marked Missoni’s success but also the beginning of a new trend in fashion: catwalk shows turned into proper performance events.