Sportswear designer Adrienne Kantor, 57, died June 16 at her home in Manhattan.
The cause of death was multiple system atrophy, according to her husband, Robert.
A native of Baldwin, N.Y., Kantor fell into fashion by happenstance at an early age. Her father owned a hardware business and her mother ran restaurants in Vienna. When a friend of her mother’s broke a zipper, she fixed it on-the-spot so quickly that her career calling was then pretty much set, Robert Kantor said.
After graduating from Barden University, Kantor took a job with Tony Podell at Laundry in the Eighties. After learning the ins and outs of design and merchandising, she set out to create her own Adrienne Christina label which she later sold. In 1997, in search of a manufacturer for sweaters for that venture, she met her husband Robert, who was then running the Hong Kong-based Direct Approach importing business. Together they launched Adrienne Victoria Designs Inc. The couple introduced contemporary sportswear labels Page III and Ginger & Java, a printed dress resource that was popular with Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton. The husband-and-wife team also introduced MaryL, named for their daughter Mary Lauren.
“She was the most proficient person. She could just get things done that no one else could figure out,” Robert Kantor said of his wife. “Adrienne was someone who motivated people to go beyond what they thought they were capable of doing.”
The company became a leading vendor for Cache Stores Inc., which had hundreds of mall-based stores at one time. The Kantors even put together a group to try to buy Cache at one point. The retailer instead wound up buying Adrienne Victoria Designs for $19.5 million in 2008. Adrienne Kantor remained with the company as executive vice president and chief merchandising officer and her husband stayed on as executive vice president of production. She left the company in 2010, as did her husband, who now co-owns the South Bronx gallery Wallworks New York and Robert Kantor Guitars creating Swarovski-encrusted instruments for Richie Sambora and Billy Idol.
Services were held Monday at 10 a.m. at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel. In addition to her husband and daughter, Kantor is survived by a sister, Leslie Matthews, and a brother, Gregory Dick. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Kantor’s memory to The MSA Coalition.