Fashion Dynasty

Ottavio Missoni Dies at 92

The founder and patriarch of the Italian knitwear brand passed away at his home in Italy on Thursday.

05.09.13 1:21 PM ET

MILAN, ITALY - APRIL 16:  Ottavio Missoni attends  Missoni Loves Leaves cocktail party during the Milan Design Week on April 16, 2012 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)

Pier Marco Tacca

Ottavio Missoni, who founded the Italian knitwear company with his wife in 1952, died on Thursday at 92. He was the patriarch of the Missoni family, an Italian dynasty with a fashion and lifestyle empire. 

The family has been reeling from the disappearance of Vittorio Missoni, 58, Ottavio's son (and the company's CEO) whose plane disappeared off the coast of Venezuela earlier this year

Missoni was born on Feb. 11, 1921 in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and, at a young age, became a track star, competing as a hurdler in the 1948 Olympics. Along with his wife, Rosita, Missoni started a business producing knitwear inspired by athletic wear in Gallarte, a town outside of Milan, in 1952. 

They developed machinery that helped them develop zigzag patterns that later became the signature of the brand, and showed their first collection in 1958.

In the late 1990s, Ottavio and Rosita handed control of the business to their three children, Luca, Vittorio, and Angela, who have expanded it into a lifestyle brand that now includes fragrances and hotels. Rosita, now 82, still oversees the house's home wear projects, and the couple's granddaughter, Margherita, is its accessories director. 

The family gave no cause of death, but said that Missoni "passed away serenely" at the family's home in Sumirago, Italy. 

Getty (3); AP (1)