At high noon on Friday, a day before showtime, Angela Missoni is everywhere. The glass-roofed former warehouse that holds Missoni’s Milan showroom is abuzz with comings and goings, but the fastest moving target is the designer herself, pursued by stylists, producers, assistants, PR, camera people and me.
Moving among the racks of the spring 2018 collection, Missoni grabs sequined leggings, elongated patterned cardigans and sheer iridescent dresses to add to the runway lineup. She reviews a string of models in their catwalk looks, adjusting them as needed. She checks on a details team currently at work sewing beads on a straw hat of hula-hoop proportions. She receives visitors, packages, phone calls and requests for her attention from every direction, until she finally sits down to have her makeup done in an upstairs alcove — a quiet interlude, sort of, as she still responds to panicked phone messages from friends and family, fields my interview questions, and shows me the acceptance speech she gave just the night before (as if she didn’t have enough to do this week) for an AmfAR award for courage. In the crowd, many sported the pink knit pussyhats of women’s rights protests that she distributed at her previous runway show.
“There’s never a moment where I’m doing just one thing at a time,” says Missoni, closing her eyes to try to reap the benefits of her makeup artist’s head massage. Especially not this moment, as she prepares for a runway show that will mark her 20th anniversary at the head of the brand her parents founded in 1953 — a large-scale event combining 70 men’s and women’s looks, followed by a dinner for her collaborators and a midnight party on the runway. “Twenty years is really a lot,” she sighs, “But at least I can say with satisfaction that Missoni is still a family brand, and still an important brand, and that I’ve transformed it from a ready-to-wear business into a luxury business.” (Missoni stands apart from many other Italian brands founded in the postwar boom because, despite its unusual scale and fame, it is still family-owned.)
On Saturday, with just a couple of hours to go before the runway show, Missoni launches into tour guide mode, taking interminable rounds of reporters through the collection. “It’s a party theme,”…