NEW YORK — Services will be held at 11 a.m. this morning at St. Ignatius Loyola Chruch, 84th Street and Park Avenue, for women’s fashion designer Don Simonelli. He was described by his friend, Donna Karan, as epitomizing the kind of designer who applied his creativity to every facet of life, including food.
Simonelli, who would have been 56 today, died Friday at Beth Israel North Hospital here of complications following an asthma attack, according to a family friend, Liz Rittersporn.
He lived in Manhattan and South Salem, N.Y.
Simonelli and his wife, Caroline, headed up their own firm, Simonelli Design Inc. The company plans to hold a fashion presentation of the current collection at its 57th Street offices Wednesday and Thursday, according to Rittersporn.
Simonelli first attracted attention in fashion circles in 1965 when he won Coty’s Young Designer Award. He subsequently worked in the Anne Klein studio, designing for a number of affiliated companies, including Modelia suits and coats, Susan Thomas knit dresses, and the knit sportswear of St. Joseph.
In the late Seventies, he created sportswear for Pierre Cardin and then became one of first bridge sportswear designers for Brass Ltd.
From 1982 to 1985, Simonelli designed coats and suits for Herbert Grossman Ltd., then took a five-year break from fashion and turned his creativity to food, catering for clients such as Karan and financier Ivan Boesky.
He returned to fashion, teaming up with his designer wife. The couple did dresses for Diane Gilman and Maribel Garcia before founding their own firm in 1992.
Karan met Simonelli in 1968, after she had joined Anne Klein as design assistant fresh out of college and he was in the Klein studio designing for Modelia.
Karan thinks of him as a friend and father figure. She describes him as that breed of designer who “designs lives, with a sense of style and passion and love — for his wife, his children, his friends, his business. It was all one to him, and he lived it.”
In addition to his wife, Simonelli is survived by his daughters Maggie and Caggie, who is the design coordinator for DKNY at Donna Karan.