Ottavio Missoni, Fashion Brand Patriarch, Dies at 92

Ottavio Missoni Dies at 92
Ottavio Missoni
Enzo Signorelli/Getty

05/09/2013 AT 10:20 AM EDT

Ottavio Missoni, the patriarch of the iconic fashion brand of zigzag-patterned knitwear that has added a classy touch of color and style to countless well-dressed women, died Thursday 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 on Thursday. 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 vacation to a Venezuelan island. They were never found, and the cause of the disappearance remains a mystery.

Ottavio Missoni founded the company in 1953, along 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. Family-run companies are a hallmark of Italian businesses, commonly beginning with a small company and slowly expanding with the help of often fiercely loyal employees.

Born on Feb. 11, 1921, in what is now Dubrovnik, a picturesque Adriatic coastal city 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.

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.

Among the exhibits honoring the Missonis 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.

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