Margherita Missoni: True Colours

Margherita Missoni: True Colours

As Margherita Maccapani Missoni prepares to guest curate Contemporary Curated at Sotheby’s London, Edward Behrens talks to her about her personal aesthetic, where she finds inspiration and what she collects.
As Margherita Maccapani Missoni prepares to guest curate Contemporary Curated at Sotheby’s London, Edward Behrens talks to her about her personal aesthetic, where she finds inspiration and what she collects.

M argherita Maccapani Missoni is best known as the creative director for M Missoni – the younger sibling to the internationally renowned fashion house Missoni, founded in 1953 by Margherita’s grandparents, Ottavio and Rosita. Today, the Missoni vision has been revitalised with the addition of Margherita’s youthful attitude and individual taste. She has also carved out a reputation as a tastemaker, with an aptitude for uncovering idiosyncratic vintage pieces for her home in Varese, which she shares with her husband and two young sons.

Margherita Missoni

Her aesthetic has attracted more than 160,000 followers on Instagram, who cannot wait to see her latest take on topics ranging from the perfect family holiday destination, to handcrafted fabrics in her Milan studio. Her appointment at M Missoni in October 2018 heralded a new direction for the label and signalled a return to innovation – all presented through her distinctive sense of style and colour.

What influences your work as a designer?

I hope that the main influence is the zeitgeist. Fashion is the fastest representation of the times we live in.

How do you find inspiration for your work?

I think creative minds are inspired by everything they come into contact with: everything I see, every place I go to, the people I run into. This is why I find it very important to always make a conscious effort to go out – to take a plane to a new country or to go to a gallery and see a show.

Among Missoni’s favourite places is the Villa e Collezione Panza, Italy, which features a Dan Flavin Installation. 2013 © FAI - Fondo Ambiente Italiano.

Who are your favourite artists?

Dan Flavin, Matisse, Giacometti, Brancusi, Fontana, Hilma af Klint and Kandinsky. I mostly use works by a specific artist as the starting point for my colour charts. Whether it’s a photographer, a painter or a ceramist, I find that, usually, even if each piece’s colours differ, the body of work will have a characteristic colouring, with specific balances and rhythms. I’ve recently been inspired by David Hockney, after seeing the retrospective at Tate Britain, as well as the German artist Neo Rauch.

How do you find out about artists who interest you?

I go to museums and galleries, I see their work in friends’ houses, I go to auctions... and of course, on Instagram.

How would you describe your personal aesthetics?

My personal aesthetic is very emotional, in the sense that everything has a narrative behind it from my life. I choose things that I’m attached to because they remind me of certain periods, or about concepts that have struck me, or that I want to live by. That influences the way I dress, the way I work or the pieces of art that I buy.

Do you consider yourself a collector?

I’m a collector of daisies, of fishes, fake flowers... I’m actually a bit intimidated by the term “art collector”. I’d say I like to buy art, but I don’t want to call myself an art collector.

The interior of Margherita Missoni's home in Varese, Italy. Photographed by Valentina Sommariva.

Are there museums or collectors that you particularly admire?

Sometimes I like small museums off the beaten track. I grew up in Varese, outside Milan, and the Villa e Collezione Panza is a real gem. Count Panza was the first collector of conceptual art in the world.

The permanent collection is incredible: site-specific Dan Flavin works that are even better than what’s in Marfa, Texas. It’s a very special place. I love seeing art contextualised in real places, not just against white walls. The sense of colour that Count Panza had is the only one I’ve ever envied.

“My personal aesthetic is very emotional, in the sense that everything has a narrative behind it from my life.”
Margherita Maccapani Missoni

There is another special museum in Varese, Museo Baroffio, which also used to be a collection. It’s a very special place to me. There are others: the Museo Poldi Pezzoli in Milan, the Neue Galerie in New York, the Boros Foundation in Berlin, the Maeght Foundation in Saint Paul de Vence, France, and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark.

How do you keep things fresh?

I surround myself with young colleagues.

Do you have a favourite period or artist?

The roaring 1920s in Mexico and, just after that, Bauhaus.

Are you inspired by any 20th-century Italian artists in your work?

Depero, Savinio, Capogrossi, Clemente, Tancredi, Pistoletto, Boetti.

Who do you think of as the audience when you start a collection?

20-year-olds.

How do you start designing a collection?

M Missoni is an extension of Missoni. Everything we do starts from a little piece of Missoni that we twist and layer. But not a piece of the iconic, well-known Missoni. A piece of B-side, of the unplayed songs – there’s a lot of research in the archive, the memorabilia. That’s the base of M Missoni collections.

Contemporary Art Sotheby’s Magazine

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