Lea Gottlieb, who injected glamour into the swimwear industry as founder and designer of Gottex, died Saturday at her home in Tel Aviv of natural causes. She was 94.
Born in Budapest, Gottlieb, her late husband, Armin, and their two daughters were survivors of the Holocaust. In 1949, the family emigrated to Israel, where they started selling rainwear before moving onto swimwear, which better matched the country’s climate. They founded Gottex (a combination of their last name and the word “textiles”) in 1956 and built it into one of the world’s most successful swimwear companies. Gottex was sold in more than 100 countries and was worn by such celebrities as Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Diana, Brooke Shields, Sophia Loren and Nancy Kissinger.
As chief designer, Gottlieb was actively involved in every facet of design, from choosing the fabrics to overseeing the samples. Her collection, in bold eye-catching colors, florals and prints, expanded from swimwear to pareos, caftans, tunics, skirts, pants and jackets in fabrics that matched the swimwear. The line staged elaborate fashion shows and became an important resource at stores such as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s.
“Lea certainly was one of the giants of the industry who had the vision, courage and fortitude that created a totally new bar. She was someone that combined the passion of her work with compassion for people and we will miss her dearly,” said Michael Gould, chairman and chief executive officer of Bloomingdale’s.
For much of its history, Gottex remained a family business. Lea Gottlieb was at the helm, her late husband was in charge of the company’s administration and finances; her daughter Miriam Ruzow ran the Gottex operations and showroom in the U.S., and her late daughter Judith Gottfried assisted her mother and designed a line for the local market.
In 1997, Gottex, which was generating $60 million in sales, was sold to Africa-Israel Group, a real estate conglomerate in Tel Aviv. After a year heading the design team, Gottlieb left the company, and once her non-compete expired, at the age of 85, she founded a new swimwear line under her own name for Tefron.
Known as a workhorse who found design inspiration all over the world, Gottlieb would start her day at five in the morning by sketching new swimwear designs. Gottlieb, then 87, told WWD in 2004: “I like to be busy. I am happy when I have a lot to do.”
Gottex is establishing an archive and exhibition at the Design Museum of Holon in Israel, planned to open in March.
Gottlieb was honored both in Israel and around the world for her accomplishments. In 2005, she was voted one of the 200 greatest Israelis of all time and was included in the book “Great Jewish Women” by Elinor Slater for her contribution in helping Israel develop its fashion industry.
In addition to her daughter Miriam, Gottlieb is survived by her son-in-law, Stephen I. Ruzow, six grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Her daughter Judith died in 2003.
My character, Dinah Madani, is just the coolest, [most] badass woman imaginable," says @amberroserevah. The actress stars in @marvel's newest series on @netflix, @thepunisher. To prepare for her role, Revah sat down with Homeland agents to get a real sense of with Dinah's day-to-day life is really like. Read our full interview on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
A scene from the 91st annual @macys Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade, which boasts 50 million TV viewers and 3.5 million on-site spectators, is considered one of the largest and most watched parades in the world. (📷: Jason Szenes/EPA-REX)
The circus came to @bloomingdales 59th Street on Tuesday night and lit up Lexington Avenue with acrobatic dancers, death-defying knife throwing, sword swallowing and aerial acts with no net. The 45 minutes of theatrics built up to unveiling the holiday windows depicting @swarovski crystal-encrusted circus pieces and scenes from “The Greatest Showman” – songs from the soundtrack included. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Joshua Scott)
The psychedelic fashion that pervaded the ’60s is back with an exhibit at the @museumofcityny. “Mode New York: Fashion Takes a Trip” chronicles the changing styles from 1960 through 1973 and features designers such as @ysl, @oscardelarenta and more. The exhibition, which is on display through April 1, is organized into four periods: First Lady Fasion, Youthquake, New Bohemia and New Nonchalance. Pictured here is model Pat Bardonella during the Garvey Day Parade in 1968. (📷: @kwamebphoto) #wwdeye #wwdfashion
“People should be a lot more honest in expressing both the dark and light of themselves. We need to give each other the space to do that because it’s the only way we can grow and evolve,” says @noelwells of her new film “Mr. Roosevelt,” which is largely based on her own struggles. Unexpectedly leaving @nbcsnl in 2014 after just one season, Wells felt set back in her self-esteem and career trajectory. She quickly refocused her energy to more personal projects, which led to the completion of “Mr. Roosevelt.” Read the rest of WWD’s interview with the “Master of None” actress on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
@barbrastreisand is giving fans a chance to see her perform up close in a new concert series, which makes its debut on @Netflix today. From behind-the-scenes takes to her concert performance in Miami last December, the two-hour streaming special captures Streisand in her element. Pictured here is the singer/actress photographed for WWD in 1963. (📷: Palmieri Tony) #wwdeye #wwdarchive
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)