Known for their bold patterns, catwalk shows and more, Missoni is a global brand with a heart warming history. During the 1948 London Olympics, Rosita Jelmini and Ottavio Missoni met and in 1953 they married and set up a small workshop making tracksuits near Rosita’s home village in Italy.
During the 1948 London Olympics, Ottavio Missoni was 27 years old and a member of the Italian 400 meters hurdles team at the Games. Rosita was a 16-year-old Italian girl living in London to improve her English, who happened to also be at the Olympic games, in the stands.
“Our student seats were right near the changing rooms at Wembley Stadium. I saw him. He looked like he was 21 but I later found out that he was 27. He had an extraordinary running style,” said Rosita.
When Ottavio was just 16 years old, he was the youngest member of Italy’s national team and at one point he held the world record for the 880 yards. He also ran in the 1938 European Championships and won the 1939 Italian Championships and World Student Games.
“Those were beautiful Olympic Games because everything was natural and spontaneous, not like now, when everything is inflated, blown out of proportion,” said Ottavio, who is known by everyone by his diminutive “Tai”.
When Rosita first saw Ottavio in Wembley, she and her classmates were invited to lunch with the Italian athletes.
“During the lunch I realized he was so funny. He was handsome but not only. He was clever and intelligent and with a great sense of humor, which has been very helpful in all our life,” Rosita said.
In 1953, the couple married and returned to Rosita’s home village to open a small workshop making tracksuits. They later began making knitwear and presented their first collection in 1958 in Milan.
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