Krizia Fashion House Founder Maria Mandelli Dies At 90

Designer Maria Mandelli, the innovative founder of the fashion house Krizia, has died at the age of 90.

The Italian powerhouse died “suddenly” in her sleep last Sunday, according to a statement made by her MMK group.

The designer would have been 91 in January.

Krizia, founded by Mandelli in 1954 in Milan, Italy, focuses on the manufacturing of women’s handbags, clothing, footwear, and perfumes. At the company’s peak, Mandelli introduced the high fashion world to hot pants.

Mariuccia Mandelli, center, surrounded by models at a Krizia spring collection in 1994.

For trends such as this, Mandelli was considered to be an “extraordinary and innovative designer” by M.M.K.

The ready-to-wear brand was purchased last February by Shenzhen Marisfrolg Fashion Co. Ltd, a China-based retail group. The retail group manufactures women’s apparel and accessories.

In March, Chinese designer Zhu Chongyun presented Krizia’s first collection.

“I am delighted to have met Zhu. I found myself in complete harmony with her,” Mandelli said. “I believe she has the strength and talent to continue our work and lead Krizia’s new international successes.”

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was among the many who gave their condolences to the fashion icon, noting that Mandelli was a “unique protagonist of fashion and of Made-in-Italy, thanks to her creativity and joy of color.”

Mandelli was born in Bergamo in 1925. Her passion for fashion began at a young age, as she enjoyed making dresses for her dolls. Later in life, she left her stable position as a teacher to pursue a career in fashion.

The brand became a reality in 1954, when Mandelli paired with her friend Flora Dolci. The ladies rented two rooms in Milan, which became their workshop. From the unfinished works of Plato, came the name for the brand, Krizia.

Ten years after its launch, Krizia made a successful debut on the catwalks of Florence, Italy.

Mandelli’s work was most often inspired by cinema, contemporary art, sculpture, and architecture, as she explored developments in fashion technology.

In the 80s and 90s, Mandelli won multiple awards for Krizia and her collections were displayed at major museums throughout the world; including the Guggenheim in New York.

In the nineties, her then husband, Aldo Pinto, developed Krizia into a $500 million business, and through it, Mandelli “helped create and support internationally, a typically Italian model of elegance.”

By the 2000s, Krizia took on collaborations with many up and coming designers including Alber Elbaz and Giambattista Valli.

The brands struggle with revenue caused it to be sold to Shenzhen last year.

Though the brand is under Chinese ownership, Zhu is said to be working to keep to the brand’s Italian roots, with the goal of taking the brand to greater heights.

Krizia became well-known over it’s 60 years under Mandelli for creating “chic and easy-to-wear clothing.”

Shonette Reed

Fashion Writer

Shonette Reed is a Los Angeles based blogger and journalist with a journalism and integrated Media degree from Biola University. She has worked in the fashion industry as a freelance writer for ForHarriet.com and a public relations intern for Liberate Apparel. Her main goal in the fashion industry is to continue to bring more women of color to the media, showing that the fashion industry has diversity worth celebrating.