PARIS — Raffaele Borriello, an Italian designer who most recently worked for Shanghai Tang, died in Paris on Tuesday from complications during surgery.
Borriello had a heart attack, according to a close friend, who asked not to be named for privacy reasons. The designer was based in Hong Kong, but would travel to Paris or Italy once a month on average, the friend said. Borriello’s most recent Instagram post, from three days ago, was from a wedding in Italy.
The designer’s death occurred a day after Compagnie Financière Richemont said it had sold Shanghai Tang to Italian entrepreneur Alessandro Bastagli, president of Finalba SpA holding, and president and chief executive officer of the textile company Lineapiù Italia SpA and the clothing firm A. Moda SpA.
A spokesman for Bastagli said he had no information, as the company had only recently started to work with the brand.
“He was one of those special human beings with no ego, which is very rare in the design industry,” said Raphael le Masne de Chermont, the former chairman of Shanghai Tang. “I’ve never seen him in a bad mood, I’ve never seen him negative. Always uber positive, always kind, encouraging his young team, a true leader.”
Borriello had been creative advisor to Shanghai Tang for several years and took over as creative director of women’s wear last year. He helped rejuvenate the business with the category charting 18 percent growth last month, le Masne de Chermont said.
“There is no correlation whatsoever,” le Masne de Chermont said, referring to his passing and the timing of the sale, which would usher in new management and creative leadership. “He was very relaxed [about the sale]. I was very relaxed as well. We decided to move on and do something else. We were very happy.”
The two men had planned to visit Argentina together and were meant to meet this week in Paris to discuss travel plans.
“If I remember something about him, it is elegance. Elegance in all sort of ways. Elegance as a human person, elegance in style,” le Masne de Chermont said.
Borriello previously worked at Leonard, Sonia Rykiel, Balmain, Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci during its Tom Ford days. Borriello and Julien Desselle cofounded the now-defunct Requiem label, known for its Forties-flavored and ladylike Parisian chic, in 2005.
He left Leonard — the French fashion house known for its orchid prints on silk jersey — in fall 2013 after three seasons as creative director. There, Borriello plunged into the house’s extensive archives and used its patterns in updated designs.
Information on survivors and funeral arrangements could not immediately be learned.