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I have not been wasting my time in London! One of my favourite excursions was a trip to the Workshop Missoni exhibition at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art in Islington.

Missoni is one of my favourite design houses as a result of their bright and bold designs and innovative knit wear. The first room provided an excellent opportunity to get up close and personal with some key garments as well as watch innovative catwalks and acrobatic videos demonstrating the roots of the company in sportswear.

missoni clothes

The second room was dominated by a real time video of a Missoni knitting machine which demonstrated one of the reasons their cloth is so expensive – it is not a fast process. However it would be have been great to be given more explanation of why the process was so slow compared to industrial knitting machines in the mass market…

missoni knitting machine video

The other wall provided a colourful display of yearns wound onto large spindles in stripes:

missoni knitting wool

One of the highlights was being  able to get so close to a wide range of knit samples and designs, all in vivid palettes of colour:

missoni knit samples

Supporting material also provided a histroy of the family, emphasising Ottavio Missoni’s  sporting background including his participation in the 1948 Olympic 400 metres hurdles race final.

olympic diploma

Upstairs the exhibition sat side by side to the permanent exhibition including one of my favourite sketches by Italian artist Giorgio Morandi.

morandi drawing

In between the paintings there was also an array of knitted figures in Missoni cloth which provided a rather surreal feel:

missoni knit figures

Including this group under the stairs, dramatic in black and white:

missoni knit figures under stairs

The final room ended, as all good exhibitions should with a video narrated by the timeless Joanna Lumley, as well as a series of knitted portraits of the Missoni empire:

missoni knit pictures

If you are in London and into textiles and fashion, I would challenge you to find a better way to send an afternoon and £5 in London this summer…

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