Ottavio Missoni, Founder of Italian Fashion House, Dies at 92

Ottavio Missoni, founder of the Italian fashion company known for its zig-zag knitwear, has died. He was 92.

Missoni died “peacefully” in his home in Sumirago, a town near the northern city of Varese, the company said in an e-mailed statement today. It didn’t give additional details. Missoni was released May 1 from a hospital in Varese after being treated for a respiratory problem, Corriere della Sera reported the same day on its website.

Missoni founded the fashion company in the 1950s with his wife Rosita. With designs worn by celebrities including Madonna and Jennifer Lopez, the fashion house has expanded its store networks and diversified its business by designing hotels and tableware. A lower-priced line, M Missoni, was introduced in 1998 to broaden the brand’s customer base.

Missoni’s scion Vittorio and his partner have been missing since January after the small plane they were traveling in vanished off the coast of Venezuela. The company is run by Ottavio Missoni’s son Luca and his sister Angela. Alberto Piantoni was appointed chief executive officer in 2011.

Fashion houses have been rocked with tragedy in recent decades, including the 1997 murder of Gianni Versace, the founder and designer for the firm of the same name. Versace’s siblings took over the company after his death, with his sister Donatella heading up the designs.

Missoni’s 2011 collaboration with Target Corp. won international headlines when the website of the second-largest U.S. discount retailer crashed because of higher-than-expected demand for the brand’s maxi dresses and home furnishings at a fraction of their typical cost. In recent years, Missoni has collaborated with companies including stroller maker Bugaboo and Valentino Fashion Group, with which it has a global development agreement.

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