Ottavio Missoni, the patriarch of the leading fashion brand of zigzag-patterned knitwear that has added a classy touch of colour and style to countless well-dressed women, has died in northern Italy. He was 92.
A statement issued by Missoni SpA said he "passed away serenely" in his home in the town of Sumirago. The town, near the city of Varese, is also home to the company headquarters.
It was a second sorrow for the family in a matter of months. Earlier this year, Ottavio's eldest child, company CEO Vittorio Missoni, 58, disappeared with his wife and four others while flying in a small plane during a holiday to a Venezuelan island. They were never found, and the cause of the disappearance remains a mystery.
Ottavio Missoni founded the company in 1953, with his wife, Rosita Jelmini, who survives him. They went on to create a fashion dynasty, with the couple's three children and their offspring involved in expanding the brand.
The company's creative director is the couple's daughter, Angela, while a third child, Luca, works in a technical role in the company.
Born on February 11, 1921, in what is now Dubrovnik, in Croatia, Missoni was fond of saying he came into the fashion business practically by accident. His wife's family owned a textile factory and produced shawls. The couple started their own business with an artisan's shop producing knitwear in Gallarate, near Milan.
At the beginning, they produced athletic wear, probably inspired by Missoni himself, who had been a track-and-field star, specialising in 400-metre races and hurdles. He won several national medals, and competed in the 1948 Olympics.
The company expanded, eventually constructing its main factory in Sumirago. But the philosophy of applying an artisan's eye to detail and precision continued to shape its fashion output, on the runways of Milan and in stores worldwide as their brand went global.
The Missonis, who often wore their own creations in everyday life, first showed their collection in Milan in 1966. The next year, a show in Florence of transparent tops sparked outrage, but they were ahead of a fashion trend that would later sprout in Europe.
Their signature fashions have a reputation for wearability and for surviving many seasons of changing fashion whims. Among the exhibits honouring them was one by the Whitney Museum in New York. New York's Metropolitan Museum has also showcased their creations. The Missoni fashion house has also created costumes for La Scala, the Milan opera house.