RIP

02.16.14

Fashion Designer Michele Savoia Found Dead in Hudson River

Menswear designer Michele Savoia, best known for creating custom suits for the likes of Robert DeNiro and Mickey Rourke, was found dead Sunday in the water next to his docked yacht.

Eccentric fashion designer and owner of former Lower East Side boutique House of Savoia, Michele Savoia, was found dead in the Hudson River on Sunday, after an almost three day search for the missing 55-year-old. Savoia, who was last seen leaving the newly-revamped Marquee nightclub at 4 a.m. early Friday morning, was reported missing by his driver, Alberto Alonso, on Saturday. Alonso had not heard from the designer in nearly two days.

The designer, who was known as "Savoia the Tailor," was best recognized for his 1930s-style suits and art deco-era clothing. His pieces were a favorite of Robert DeNiro, Chris Noth, Mickey Rourke, and Matt Dillon. Savoia also designed for Broadway, creating Ricky Martin’s costumes in the revival of "Evita," as well as the outfits for Tom Hanks's performance in Nora Ephron's posthumous play "Lucky Guy."

Growing up in the 1960s alongside a family of "sharp dressers," Savoia was inspired by precise tailoring and a strong vintage aesthetic.

"Basically, my father taught me how to dress, and Popop taught me how to tailor," the designer told Fashion Week Daily in 2011. "He had his tailor shop down the block from our house, and I got kicked off to him every day. Before you knew it, I had a needle in my hand and was making patterns and sewing. I got into all kinds of trouble. I'm definitely the bad boy of fashion. " 

At 13, Savoia landed his first gig in the fashion industry, working as a manager of a busy menswear shop. After graduating from FIT with a degree in menswear, Savoia was hired by designer Bill Kaiserman and the Rafael Company, and later became head of the menswear division at Jhane Barnes. In 1984, the designer opened his own line, designing custom, "hand-tailored bespoke suits, with buttons and pockets" and selling them to stores.

“I should be living in 1937,” Savoia told website 'Style Like U' in 2011 of his design aesthetic. “In the art deco era, everything was sexy ... seductive ... beautiful. You knew where you were. Right now the world is a bit of a mish-mash ... a mess.”

The designer's body was recovered near Pier 59 in Chelsea in the water alongside his docked yacht. Police believe his death was accidental, and that Savoia may have been drunk and fallen off his boat.