Rome — Fernanda Gattinoni, a designer who contributed to building the image of Italian fashion, died Tuesday morning at the Umberto I hospital here after suffering heart failure. She was 96.

Gattinoni designed under her own label since the Forties, and was active in her namesake business until her death. In fact, she was adding the finishing touches to the wedding dress of Elisabeth De Balkany, the daughter of Maria Gabriella di Savoia, just before she died. Her business was mainly devoted to private clients, and Guillermo Mariotto will stay on as creative director.

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