Born in 1921 to an Italian father and a Croatian mother in the former Yugoslavia, Ottavio Missoni lived many lives before he and his wife, Rosita Missoni, founded their eponymous luxury Italian knitwear label, known for its colorful zig-zag stripes, in 1953. An international track star, Ottavio made tracksuits worn by the 1948 Italian Olympic team and also represented the country in the 400-meter race that year. During World War II, he was captured and held as a prisoner of war in Egypt. To commemorate his remarkable career, the Italian Union organized an exhibition, “Ottavio Missoni: Master of Colors,” in Maribor, Slovenia, to coincide with the city’s appointment as 2012 European Capital of Culture.
The show, on view through April 30 at the Vetrinjski dvor Mansion, is divided into three parts. It depicts Missoni as an artist, businessman, and athlete. His original 1948 tracksuit is on display, on a mannequin covered in Missoni fabric. Pattern plans, fabric swatches, and artworks that carry his vibrant aesthetic are also included. There are actual Missoni pieces, too — bright baubles, scarves, and bags, along with vases encased in his flashy knits. To celebrate the April 4 opening of the show, faceless performers covered head to toe in Missoni fabric ran around the exhibition and through the streets of Maribor.