A small aircraft carrying Vittorio Missoni, the director of Italian fashion house Missoni, has disappeared off the coast of Venezuela.
Vittorio and his wife Maurizia Castiglioni were among six people, also including two of their friends and two Venezuelan crew members, on board the flight from the archipelago of Los Roques towards Caracas' Maiquetia airport. The small, twin-engine aircraft disappeared mid-morning local time on Friday and has not been traced since.
The fashion house said in a statement on Sunday: "Missoni confirms that Vittorio Missoni and his partner have been lost in Venezuela. The small airplane in which they were travelling has disappeared. This is the only information available at present."
Vittorio's younger brother, Luca, who is active in the family-run business, was reportedly traveling to Venezuela on Saturday to monitor search efforts.
Newspaper La Repubbica said Venezuelan aircraft, motorboats and helicopters had taken off at dawn on Saturday to resume the search for the missing plane. The Italian news agency ANSA, reporting from Rome, said a specialized ocean-searching naval vessel also was being deployed.
Vittorio is the eldest son of the company's founders Ottavio and Rosita who, in their 90s, still follow the business. With his siblings, Vittorio, 58, is credited with transforming the fortunes of the Milan based fashion label started up by his parents in 1953.
As chief executive of Missoni SpA, he has expanded the Italian brand’s retail network and was behind the hugely successful collaboration with US retail giant Target in 2011 that served to raise the Italian group’s profile internationally.
Ottavio and Rosita created the company in the 1950s and spent two decades turning it into one of Italy's most famous fashion brands, becoming known for its trademark zigzag and other geometric patterns in jumpers, scarves and other knitwear.
But the label's image began to flag in the 1980s, which was when the couple's children – Vittorio, Angela and Luca – stepped in. They took over the company in the 1990s and helped restore some of the brand's initial success. That success was further heightened when the Duchess of Cambridge wore a blue Missoni coat for an outing.
Vittorio opened Missoni stores in China, Saint Tropez and South Asia in recent years. And Missoni also expanded into interior decoration and hotels through a joint venture with Rezidor group. The two hotels are in Edinburgh and Kuwait City.