MILAN — Franca Bini, a buyer who helped introduce Italian fashion to the U.S., died in Florence on Saturday at 75.
The cause of death was heart-related problems. A funeral service was held on Monday in Florence, her hometown.
Bini joined Gimbel’s buying office in 1960 working for Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Holt Renfrew, and soon started playing a pivotal role in jump-starting the careers of many Italian designers.
Dawn Mello, who first met Bini when she was fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman in the Seventies, said Bini helped bring, among others, Fendi, Valentino and Versace to the U.S. at a time when Italian fashion was just emerging. “It was an exciting time. She loved fashion and exploring the latest designer. She was always excited about sharing information, and was very familiar with the market,” said Mello.
Mello also said that Bini had “a natural style, and wonderful taste” and that she was “someone everyone gravitated toward, a warm and special person, with a radiant personality.”
In 1980, Bini became director of Marshall Field’s buying office in Florence. Nine years later, she began consulting for Stanley Korshak of Dallas and Judith Leiber, the luxury handbag company.
“She was a very dear friend for the last 25 years and helped us develop relationships with the world’s finest sources,” said Leiber.
Dawn Inello, vice president of sales and merchandising at Judith Leiber, said, “Luxury was her specialty; she picked the finest things.”
Inello said Bini was passionate about fashion and never retired from an active role in the business, continuing to travel around the world.
“She was working for our company until the very last day, and she really touched the hearts of so many people in this industry.”
Kikki Pertici, a colleague and friend of Bini’s for 47 years, said Bini never grew old, maintaining her “joyful, fun and communicative” personality.
This story first appeared in the March 18, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.