Fashion Flashback: Sergio Rossi

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Deaths from the COVID-19 virus is beginning to hit home in the fashion industry. On Thursday, the coronavirus claimed the life of Italian shoe designer Sergio Rossi. Rossi died at the Maurizio Bufalini Hospital in Cesena, in northern Italy due to complications from the novel coronavirus. He was 84 years old. In early March, Rossi announced he would be donating $108,000 to fight the coronavirus. Little did he know that complications from COVID-19 infection would take his life

In a statement on Instagram, Riccardo Sciutto, CEO of Sergio Rossi Group said, “Sergio Rossi was a master, and it is my great honor to have met him and gotten to present him the archive earlier this year. His vision and approach will remain our guide in the growth of the brand and the business.”

“He loved women and was able to capture a woman’s femininity in a unique way, creating the perfect extension of a woman’s leg through his shoes. Our long and glorious history started from his incredible vision and we’ll remember his creativity forever,” Sciutto continued.

Sergio Rossi’s eponymous brand was founded in 1951 which was only natural in that Rossi came from a family of shoemakers. His footwear and accessories line would become of the renowned and celebrated accessory brands in Italy.

Rossi first plied his trade be selling footwear to boutiques and his sandals on Italian beaches. And by the 1960’s Sergio Rossi footwear according to Vogue, “quickly became synonymous with Italian quality and classic feminine designs.”

By the 1970s Sergio Rossi had developed a design aesthetic that focused on bold color and geometric shapes. While the 1970s was a turnaround period for Sergio Rossi, what really made the Italian footwear brand a household name was the brand’s collaborations with Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, and Azzedine Alaia.

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Sergio Rossi’s fashion shows became a mainstay of Milan Fashion Week in the 1980s. And during the 80s the brand opened stores in Turin, Florence, Rome, Brussels, New York City, Los Angeles, and London. Inspired by iconic photographer Helmut Newton, early Sergio Rossi campaigns used low-angled shots to highlight the length of the legs and body, focusing on the height and shape of the heel.

PPR Luxury Division, formerly the Gucci Group, bought a 70 % interest in the company in 1999, and in 2005 bought the remaining 30%. In 2015, Sergio Rossi was bought by Investindustrial, a private equity firm that also owned Aston Martin.

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The brand over the decades has been a favorite of Suzy Menkes, Olivia Palermo, Rihanna, Adriana Lima, Paris Hilton, Nicole Kidman, Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Priyanka Chopra, and Scarlett Johansson. Sergio Rossi is survived by his son Gianvito Rossi.

William S. Gooch

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