Rescuers searched by air and sea today off the coast of Venezuela for the plane carrying Italian fashion mogul Vittorio Missoni, the man credited with turning his father’s fashion house into a global empire that includes hotels, housewares and bicycles.
The 58-year-old left the remote Los Roques archipelago Friday on a twin-engine plane bound for Caracas, Venezuela. On board were his wife, two friends and two pilots.
Thirty minutes after takeoff, the plane vanished into the Caribbean, leaving the tight-knit Missoni clan anxiously waiting for answers.
Luca Missoni, Vittorio’s brother, is reportedly en route to Venezuela to monitor the search effort, while 91-year-old patriarch Ottavio Missoni remains in Italy with family.
Vittorio, who runs the family business with his siblings, Luca and Angela, has been instrumental in bringing the brand to luxury consumers in Asia.
“It’s quite a family business and we have also a new generation who’s been involved,” Missoni said on a video that was posted on YouTube earlier this year.
The Missoni brand was born in 1953 at a workshop in Gallarte, Italy, when Ottavio Missoni and his wife, Rosita, began creating knitwear.
Known for the trademark Missoni zig-zag pattern, the brand has become a favorite of fashionistas, including Kate Moss and Kate Middleton.
The Missonis used their flair for design and business savvy to move beyond knitwear, starting a hotel chain and a line of housewares.
In 2011, the fashion house partnered with Target to create a low cost, 400-piece line, including a bicycle that sported the trademark Missoni zig-zag.
The collection sold out in minutes at Target stores, while online shoppers managed to crash the big-box retailer’s website.
The fashion house has not yet said whether the Missoni fall 2013 menswear show, which is scheduled for next Sunday in Milan, will go on as planned.
Annuals sales of the Milan-based company are estimated to be between $75 million and $100 million.