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MADRID — Manuel Mota, creative director and resident designer of Pronovias for 23 years, died Wednesday at age 46. The cause of death has not yet been confirmed.

In a brief statement issued from the Barcelona-based bridal company, president Alberto Palatchi said, “The Pronovias family has lost one of its best loved members. We are left with the memory of so many collections, so many catwalk shows, so much effort and talent. Manuel was a great partner, a great artist and above all, a great person. We will never forget him.”

This story first appeared in the January 10, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Mota was known for his prolific output — three collections yearly including the Pronovias core line, a high-end grouping for edgier brides and “Fiesta,” a vast range of cocktail and mother-of-the bride dresses.

“Manuel Mota was a true gentleman, loved by everybody who had an opportunity to spend time with him,” said Mara Urshel, co-owner of Kleinfeld New York. “He was a creative visionary who will be missed by brides all over the world.”

“I am extremely sad about Manuel’s unexpected death. It is no coincidence that Pronovias’ growth and international recognition as a fashion reference happened during his time as creative director. He was not just talented but a good professional colleague and a very sensitive friend,” said Sever Garcia, one-time national sales director for Pronovias USA and current chief executive officer of New York-based SGN Group, which promotes Spanish brands in the U.S.

Lynn Harlow, owner of Promises and Lace in Burlington, Ontario, praised Mota’s artistic talent and vision. “He was incredible; his passion for the brand, for detail and design will always be remembered. I waited every year for him to pull out the stops.” Harlow said her shop plans a tribute window later this month “to get the word out as to how important he was. People have to know.”

“We are devastated by the news, what a loss,” said Jennifer Martin, co-owner with her mother Karen Jones of Gowns by Design, a one-store retailer in Mechanicsburg, Pa. “His talent and vision were unparalleled and somehow he could put classic elegance and tradition together with fashion-forward freshness all in one dress. I know very few designers who do that. He was unique.”

Jones added, “Design is what it’s all about. Manuel was a key part of the Pronovias package.”

Spanish model and personal friend Eugenia Silva said, “We worked and traveled a lot together — and he designed my sister’s wedding gown. He was one of the best bridal designers in the world. It’s very sad news, the potential has disappeared. I loved him very much.”

Over the years, Mota dressed a bevy of local celebrities and international brides from Penny Lancaster (Rod Stewart’s wife) to — and more recently at her November wedding — Charisse Verhaert, Belgian wife of Julio Iglesias Jr. and mother-of-the-groom, Isabel Preysler.

Pronovias’ brands sell in 90 countries through 185 company-owned or franchised stores and 3,800 points of sale. The latest openings include new markets Romania, Venezuela and Ecuador.

In 2011, worldwide turnover for the bridal group totaled 150.3 million euros, or $196 million at current exchange, with last year’s sales expected to reach $230 million, an increase of 19 percent.

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