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Italian fashion is all about family

October 6, 1997

MILAN, Italy (AP) - Families that knit together stay together, at least if their name is Missoni.

King of the knitting needle, Tai, and his designer wife Rosita, announced over the weekend they were turning over their multimillion-dollar fashion empire to their three children.

Monday marked the first collection by the second Missoni generation. The show definitely had a new edge to it _ an urban collection that had shed the folklore feel of many a past presentation.

Knitted tops were worn over leather jackets. Copper and gold techno fabrics appeared for both short daytime dresses and more extravagant evening gowns. Overall, new weaving techniques highlighted a more current knitted look.

Diagonal geometric patterns in the traditional Missoni color schemes sharpened the knitwear without changing its trademark style.

Looking like a pair of proud parents _ and happy grandparents _ Tai and Rosita stood behind their daughter Angela as she came out on the runway after the much-applauded collection.

Angela had learned the skills of the trade in their home and factory annex in Sumirago near Milan. For several seasons she designed her own successful line, then gave it up to walk in her mother’s footsteps.

Her brother Luca sat by his father’s computerized loom and watched as the multi-colored Missoni prints took shape. Meanwhile, brother Vittorio sharpened up his accounting skills to take over the commercial side of the company.

Another mother-daughter combination underlined that Italian fashion is still very much a family affair.

Laura Biagiotti, who lives and works out of her castle in the Roman countryside, has brought her 21-year-old daughter Lavinia into the limelight since her husband and business partner Gianni Cigna died a year ago.

Not yet part of the working team, Lavinia was back stage preparing models for the runway Monday and greeting well-wishers after the show.

Also famous for her knitting skills, Biagiotti’s warm weather collection includes silk knit suits and dresses and intricately crocheted evening gowns.

Candid white linen is back in a big way for next season, appearing in Venetian-blind pleated daytime shifts, and in a return of the famed wide and loose bambola dress.

With its delicate cutout embroidery, graceful floral prints and meticulous pleating, it was an elegant, feminine look.

In other family sagas, Giorgio Armani brought his niece Silvana on the runway Sunday after his Emporio collection, fashion’s way of announcing a new designer.

Before the tragic death of her brother, Donatella Versace was already designing Versace’s Versus line. Now she has become the house’s main designer, while brother Santo runs the business side.

No story about Italian fashion families is complete without mention of the five Fendi sisters, who have brought in husbands, children and now grandchildren into the Roman leather and fur empire. The Fendis present their spring-summer 1998 show Tuesday.

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