There are odd moments when Angela Missoni takes a leap of faith that flummoxes her audience, and it usually involves something she's done to Missoni's inviolable knitwear legacy. This time around, for a while at least, she turned her back on the colorful palette that is the company chromosome. The first looks were all white. The show eventually embraced color, then returned at the end to the monochrome of all black. But for Angela, this seemingly radical gesture was simply an embrace of tradition. Missoni's first magazine cover was for French Elle in 1966 with an all-white outfit. Now, with the label's 60th anniversary on the horizon in 2013, the designer wanted to remind everyone that "Missoni is fashion."
Messing with color wasn't Angela's only iconoclastic move. Missoni knits and layers come to mind. Here, the layers had been simplified, even stripped away. Or, at least, they'd been replaced by a veil of organza. The raschel knit that is a Missoni signature was patchworked and multi-textured, sometimes with sequins and crystals, under a filmy shroud. It was a nice way to add mystery to something that is familiar to the point of cliché. Once or twice, the organza was printed with the pattern of the knit underneath and—even more—patched with paillettes in the same print. Angela loved 3-D movies as a child, and that's the effect she was after here.
Not everything made sense, least of all a
press-release scenario that tried to recast the Missoni girl as some sort of intergalactic emissary. The tailoring may have been an effort to introduce a new structure and definition, but it looked leaden beside the diaphanous sweep of Jourdan Dunn's organza veil. And there's still the issue of how the dyed-in-the-colored-wool Missoni customer will take to monochrome. Even so, the black trapeze dress worn by Julia Nobis to close the show clearly had a story to tell. That's only right. After 60 years, so does Missoni.