SUMIRAGO, Italy - Mention the name Missoni, and most think of a fashion empire that revolutionised textile patterns, spawned the no-bra look on the catwalks, and is now a global brand that designs everything from sweaters to sheets to hotels.
The mamma and papa company Ottavio and Rosita founded on a shoestring has become a fashion dynasty run by their children, Luca, Angela and Vittorio, and some grandchildren.
But none of it would have happened had it not been for the 1948 London Olympics, where one kind of flame sparked another between Rosita Jelmini and Ottavio Missoni.
She was 16 going on 17, a shy Italian girl in London to improve her English.
He was 27, a tall, strappingly handsome member of the Italian 400m hurdles team at the Games, where the world was trying to put the devastation of war behind it.
They married in 1953 and set up a small workshop making track suits in Gallarate, near Rosita's home village, and later moved on to knitwear, presenting their first collection in Milan in 1958 at the dawn of what was to become known as Italy's economic miracle.
Then, in 1967, the battle of the bras really put them on the fashion map.
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