Laura Biagiotti, who conquered global markets with her soft, loose women’s clothes and luxurious knits that won her the nickname of ‘Queen of Cashmere’, died Friday after a heart attack, at the age of 73. She dedicated her life to her work, so much that, in 1987, she told the Associated Press: ‘‘Being a fashion designer is like taking vows. It becomes your religion for life.”
Born on August 4, 1943, Biagiotti studied to become an archaeologist but abandoned those plans to help her mother run a dressmaking business. In those early years, she traveled frequently to the U.S.A. to learn about business and technology. She began designing women’s clothes in the 1960s and she presented her own collection in Florence in 1972. In 1988, she became the first Italian designer to present a fashion show in China, and in 1995 was the first to have a show inside the Kremlin walls in Moscow. Her brand expanded to include men and children clothing, as well as accessories, like sunglasses, and perfumes, the most popular of which is ‘‘Roma’’, which is named after her home city.
Biagiotti was deeply proud of her native country, and for years she wore a cashmere shawl woven in the red, white and green colors, the colors of the Italian flag – ‘‘I’m convinced that the true gold mine in our country is the ‘Made in Italy’ label’’ she said in 2011. Her love for her country materialized also in the sponsoring of monument restorations, and the Italian Culture Minister Dario Francescchini remembered her as a generous supporter in caring for the Italian cultural patrimony.
Biagiotti leaves her daughter Lavinia, who works as the fashion house’s creative director. She leaves her daughter Lavinia Biagiotti Cigna, who entered the family business in 1997 and became the company’s Vice President in 2005.
Ilona Catani Scarlett