By  on July 18, 2005

NEW YORK — Norman Raab, co-founder of the Villager line of women's apparel and the offshoot juniors' brand, Ladybug, died Saturday at the age of 89 at Broward General Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Following a car accident last year, Raab had been in and out of the hospital and reentered the hospital last week for tests, a family member said.

Founded by Raab and his brother Max in 1959, Villager quickly became known for its classic collegiate style.

The fashion brand got off to a robust start with its offer of a pink men's wear-inspired shirt — one that was snapped up by teens within days, according to an article published in 2002 in the Philadelphia Daily News. The firm's assortment was subsequently expanded to comprise looks such as shirts with small prints and plaids, crewneck sweaters, and pleated skirts, including kilts.

The brand was highly successful during the mid-Sixties and performed especially well in affluent suburbs and in stores like Saks Fifth Avenue.

It also launched Sidney Kimmel's career in sportswear. Kimmel, now chairman of Jones Apparel Group, worked at Villager during the Sixties, rising to the rank of president, before going on to found Jones in 1970.

At its peak, Villager was reported to have reached $140 million in annual sales. The creation of Ladybug followed on the heels of Villager's success and sought to bring the same style to a younger market during the Sixties.

Since 1992, Villager has been owned by Liz Claiborne, which still markets its dresses and accessories.

After Villager was sold, Max Raab went on to work as a producer in Hollywood, on films such as "A Clockwork Orange" and "Walkabout." In 1974, he returned to the sportswear business and founded J.G. Hook.

Norman Raab was born in Philadelphia on Nov. 10, 1915, the New York Times reported. He graduated from Simon Gratz High School in 1934 and attended Penn State University, but did not receive a degree. He served as a bombardier navigator in Europe in World War II and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal.
Raab retired to Florida at age 54, where he became involved in medical philanthropy.He is survived by his second wife, Christine Brooks; his sons, Stephen and Whitney; his brother, and four grandchildren.

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