Ottavio Missoni, co-founder of the Missoni brand, died this morning at the age of 92. According to a statement from the brand, Ottavio “passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by his family,” in Sumirago, Italy.
The Missoni patriarch had been hospitalized May 1 for cardiac impairment, but was released later that evening after being treated; it is not reported if these troubles were the cause of death.
Ottavio, who founded the Missoni brand in 1953 with his wife Rosita, leaves behind an indelible mark on the industry and a legacy not only as a successful businessman and designer, but as a family man. Tributes from his grandkids, as well as industry insiders already abound on Twitter. “Ottavio Missoni, 92, was a fashion icon who founded a dynasty. He was also a marvelous grandfather to @mmmargherita. He will be missed. RIP.” Derek Blasberg tweeted.
“Incredibly sad to hear Ottavio Missoni has passed away @Missoni – will miss his “Awww…GRANDPA Missoni” presence at the shows,” Susie Bubble wrote.
Margherita Missoni tweeted a photo of her grandfather looking happy and strong in earlier days.
Though Ottavio dies a legend in the industry, his path to success was not always so clearcut. He was born in Croatia and trained as an athlete until World War II. He spent the majority of WWII as a prisoner of war in Egypt. When the war ended and he was released, he began to make knitted tracksuits. When he became a member of the 1948 Italian Olympic 400-meter hurdle team, the team wore his designs.
He met wife Rosita while competing in the London Olympic games that year, where she was a student spectator. Rosita’s family owned a textile factory; when the couple married, they developed the machinery that allowed them to create their now-signature zig-zag knits.
They founded the brand in 1953, initially producing athletic wear before expanding into ready-to-wear. The Telegraph credits the support of Anna Piaggi, stylist Emmanuelle Khanh, and fashion editor Diana Vreeland with bringing the brand to popularity.
Ottavio and Rosita passed the brand to their children in 1996, when daughter Angela took over designing. Missoni has since enjoyed further success, including expanding beyond ready-to-wear into home goods, international hotels, and a blockbuster collaboration with Target, which crashed the retailer’s website and quickly sold out.
It’s been a hard year for the Missoni family. In January, a plane carrying Ottavio’s eldest son Vittorio and his wife Maurizia Castiglioni went missing off the coast of Venezuela. It has not yet been found.
Ottavio is survived by his wife Rosita; his two other children, Luca and Angela; and his grandchildren, including Margherita, the brand’s ambassador.