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Obituary: Francesco Trussardi Dies in Car Accident

MILAN — The Trussardi family again suffered a tragic death when Francesco Trussardi was killed Sunday in a car accident at the age of 29. His death comes four years after his father, Nicola Trussardi, 56, also was killed in a car accident....

MILAN — The Trussardi family again suffered a tragic death when Francesco Trussardi was killed Sunday in a car accident at the age of 29. His death comes four years after his father, Nicola Trussardi, 56, also was killed in a car accident.

This story first appeared in the January 28, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Returning home to Bergamo after a night out with friends, Francesco Trussardi lost control of his Ferrari Modena 360 on Sunday at 3:30 a.m. The police attributed the accident to high speed and an icy bend in the road.

Trussardi died instantly in the impact with a cement light pole, according to the company.

A private service was held Monday in Bergamo, an hour north of Milan. Trussardi is survived by his mother, Marialuisa, and his siblings, Beatrice, 31, Gaia, 24 and Tomaso, 19.

Nicola and Francesco Trussardi shared a passion for high-speed cars and motorcycles. The father enjoyed flying and racing speedboats with Francesco, who had a motorcycle accident several years ago.

While he possessed good looks, education and financial security, Francesco Trussardi was shy and reserved. But he also was a hard worker who, over the last four years, showed he was not afraid to take command of the family company, becoming chief executive officer of Trussardi SpA last fall. At that time, his mother officially exited the company and passed the baton to Francesco and Beatrice, who is in charge of product, image and communication. Beatrice Trussardi is also president of the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, a nonprofit organization that promotes cultural activities.

In a recent interview, Francesco Trussardi said he was focused on building the leather goods division, the company’s traditional core business. Soft-spoken and polite, Trussardi stated matter-of-factly how, since 1999, he had slashed licenses, streamlined the web of firms that made up the structure of the holding company, created a management base and developed plans to renovate stores. This month, Trussardi signed a license with Vestimenta to help expand the men’s wear division and formed a five-year partnership with Mitsui for the development of the fashion house’s licenses in Japan. In 2002, Trussardi registered sales of $118 million, up 3 percent from the previous year, with licenses accounting for $80 million.

Trussardi, apparently unfazed by the inevitable comparisons to his charismatic father, was a concrete, hands-on, but low-profile manager.

“I remember Francesco Trussardi as extremely sweet, polite, kind, full of life and shy, but he succeeded in conquering his shyness with grit,” said Krizia’s Mariuccia Mandelli, who watched the company’s growth and success in the Eighties and Nineties. “I admired him and his family, who after the tragic death of the father, with bravery, perseverance, and determination picked up the reins of the company with success, proving that he was, although young, up to the situation. And I know he was interested in culture and that, together with his sister Beatrice, he meant to create even stronger ties between fashion and culture.”

“We are dismayed by such a huge tragedy that has hit such a young man,” said Angela Missoni, creative director of Missoni’s women’s ready-to-wear line, who was recently putting together a designer soccer team with Francesco Trussardi. The team was scheduled to play at benefits and charity events.

Donatella and Santo Versace, who was president of Italy’s Chamber of Fashion at the end of the Nineties and often met with Nicola Trussardi on fashion-related issues, said they were “in pain and close to the Trussardi family.”

Mario Boselli, the current president of the Chamber of Fashion, and distantly related to the Trussardi family, said it was like “reliving the death of Nicola Trussardi.” Boselli said he admired the way Francesco Trussardi was managing the company. “He did a great job, and would have done a lot more, and very well, given the possibility.”

The death of Trussardi raises the issue of the future of the company. Although Trussardi and his sister set the foundations for the further expansion of the firm, luxury goods analysts here wondered whether Beatrice Trussardi would be willing to head the company alone, given the fact that her siblings are not actively involved in its management: Gaia is pursuing an acting career and Tomaso is still in school. A Trussardi spokeswoman said the family was in mourning and would not release a statement.

Luxury goods analysts said they envisioned a return of Marialuisa Trussardi. “The most sensible thing to do would be for the mother to return to the company and help her daughter run it,” said Carlo Pambianco, owner of a luxury goods consulting firm here. “Marialuisa is a strong woman and experienced. They can work together on their own, or perhaps with a partner, but I don’t think they need the help of banks, since the company is financially solid, and I don’t believe they would want to sell the company. It would go against all Nicola and Francesco did and wanted.”

Armando Branchini, vice president of Intercorporate, a luxury goods consultant, also believed a sale of the company was unlikely and that it is inevitable that Marialuisa Trussardi returns to head it. “She will have to build a stronger management structure, but she’ll have to personally take care of the business now,” he said.