MILAN — Laura Biagiotti, 73, has been hospitalized in Rome after suffering cardiac arrest. Her condition is reported as very serious.
According to media reports, the cardiac arrest has caused a cerebral damage. It is being ascertained whether there is a cerebral death.
The Italian designer in 2015 marked the 50th year of her namesake company with a runway show that closed with a reinterpretation of a 1979 floral print on billowy linen dresses with black lace trims. “I never would have thought to one day celebrate a jubilee with fashion,” said Biagiotti backstage at the time, flanked by her daughter Lavinia, who is vice president of the family-owned group. “But fashion is a métier that never ends, just as it is for a writer.”
The designer has been living and working in the Roman countryside since 1980, as she transferred her headquarters to Castello Marco Simone, an 11th-century national monument that she and her husband, the late Gianni Cigna, restored. The castle also houses one of Europe’s most famous golf courses, the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club.
The company was established in Rome in 1965 by her mother Delia Soldaini Biagiotti as a tailoring atelier and its uniforms were worn by Alitalia flight attendants at the time. After producing a collection under the Via Veneto 7 label, which helped to build the company’s success in the U.S., that same year, Laura Biagiotti started producing and distributing couture collections for the likes of Emilio Schuberth, Roberto Capucci and Litrico through a new company, Biagiotti Export. The first Laura Biagiotti collection debuted in 1972 at the Sala Bianca in Florence, together with designs by Ottavio and Rosita Missoni, Walter Albini, Krizia’s Mariuccia Mandelli and Gianfranco Ferré.
Biagiotti became a friend and muse of French artist René Gruau, who created several illustrations for her, including one of her image reproduced on signature tote bags produced in the brand’s colors of reference — red, black and white.
Known for her expertise in developing luxury cashmere pieces, Biagiotti was the first Italian designer to present a fashion show in China. The event took place in Beijing on April 25, 1988, followed by a show at the Grand Theater of the Kremlin in February 1995. Biagiotti was the first Italian designer to present a fashion show in the former venue of the USSR Communist Party in Moscow.
In addition to having received the title of Cavaliere del Lavoro, one of the highest honors bestowed by the president of the Italian Republic, in 2010, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano presented the designer with the Premio Leonardo for her exceptional contribution in promoting Italian fashion worldwide — the first time a woman had ever received the prestigious award.
A promoter of the arts, Biagiotti and her husband assembled one of the best collections of paintings by Futurist artist Giacomo Balla, now owned by Fondazione Biagiotti Cigna, and which has traveled to venues such as the Pushkin Museum of Moscow. The “Genio Futurista [Futurist Genius]” tapestry by Balla was on display in the Italian Pavilion of Expo 2015 in Milan.
Running since April and until June 25 “Giacomo Balla: Designing the Future” is being held at the London Estorick Collection — an exhibition of 116 (out of 300 artworks of the entire collection), of the most popular and significant masterpieces by the Italian artist (1871-1958) gathered by Biagiotti and Cigna. This is Balla’s first collection to be exposed in this century in London.
In 1998, Laura Biagiotti Parfums restored the Cordoned Staircase of the Campidoglio, followed by the donation of the new Grand Stage Curtain for the Fenice Opera House in Venice in 2003. Of note is also the restoration of the Palazzo Farnese Fountains in Rome, designed by Michelangelo.