Ottavio Missoni, the head of the Italian fashion brand known by its iconic zigzag prints, died today at age 92.
The world-famous fashion designer and company’s co-founder, called Tai by friends and family, “passed away serenely” in his home in Sumirago, Italy, surrounded by family, according to a statement issued by Missoni S.p.A., The Associated Press reported.
The Italian fashion house Missoni built became internationally known for its zigzag-patterned knitwear and bright colorful designs, a favorite of elite and celebrities alike, from Madonna to Kate Moss and Jennifer Lopez.
His death comes four months after his son, Vittorio Missoni, an executive at the family business, went missing. The plane carrying Vittori, his wife and other passengers disappeared in January after takeoff in the Caribbean, setting off a failed search-and-rescue effort.
The mysterious disappearance of Vittorio Missoni, who was credited with turning his father’s fashion house into a global empire, shocked the close-knit Missoni clan, who refused to give up hope. Their plane was never found.
Born in 1921 in the Republic of Ragusa, Ottavio Missoni was first heralded for his athleticism. At 16, the track-and-field star was the youngest athlete to ever compete for the Italian national team, according to the Missoni website. His first fashion venture was a line of knit track suits, which became the official uniform for the Italian Athletics Team at the 1948 London Olympics. Missoni competed at the games and was a finalist in the 400-meter hurdles.
In 1953, he founded the company with his wife, Rosita. The two presented their first collection in 1958, and gained international recognition at a showcase in Paris in 1967.
The Missonis built their main factory in Sumirago because Ottavio Missoni preferred “to work in a place considered ideal for passing the weekend,” according to the company.
The rest is fashion history. Today, the company sells not only apparel, but accessories and fragrances. Its products are sold all across the world from Asia to the United Arab Emirates and the United States
Missoni’s work – from patchwork tapestries to sweaters bearing his zigzag stitching – has been displayed at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum in New York in a retrospective for his 25th anniversary and, most recently, in a 2012 exhibition in Maribor, Slovenia, where he was hailed as the “genius of color.”
He is survived by wife Rosita, daughter Angela, son Luca, and grandchildren, according to the AP.
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