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Updated Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 10:54 PM

Italian fashion scion’s plane missing off Venezuela

The Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela – Rescue crews used boats and aircraft Saturday to search for a small plane that disappeared off Venezuela carrying the chief executive officer of Italy’s iconic Missoni fashion house and five other people.

But more than a day after the BN-2 Islander aircraft disappeared from radar screens on its short flight from the Venezuelan resort islands of Los Roques to Caracas, no sign of the plane had been found, officials said.

“We have no other news” about the plane carrying Vittorio Missoni, 58, the head of the company; his wife, Maurizia Castiglioni; two of their Italian friends; and two Venezuelan crew members, said Paolo Marchetti, a Missoni official. He spoke briefly as he left company headquarters in the northern Italian town of Sumirago on Saturday.

Missoni’s younger brother, Luca, who is active in the family-run business, was reportedly traveling to Venezuela to monitor the search.

“We’re holding on to a glimmer of hope,” said Oswaldo Scalvenzi, a relative of Elda Scalvenzi, one of the Missoni friends aboard the flight.

Search teams were using a plane and a helicopter, and working with the Venezuelan coast guard, Venezuela’s National Civil Aviation Institute said Saturday.

The missing twin-engine plane had enough fuel for a three-hour flight, said Francisco Paz Fleitas, president of the aviation agency. Paz said the plane took off at 11:39 a.m. Friday and had been expected to arrive at Caracas’ Simon Bolivar International Airport 42 minutes later.

“The last position registered in radar data and those supplied by a system on board the aircraft” was about 11 miles south of Los Roques, the agency said.

Venezuelan Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said the plane was missing hours after it took off from Los Roques, a string of islands popular for scuba diving, white beaches and coral reefs, and where the Missonis and their friends were on vacation.

Reverol said Friday that two navy patrol boats were involved in the search and that a specialized oceanographic ship, the Guaicamacuto, also was deployed.

Vittorio Missoni is the eldest son of the company’s founder, Ottavio, who at 91 still follows the business.

The Missoni fashion house, with its trademark zigzag and other geometric patterns in sweaters, scarves and other knitwear, is one of Italy’s most famous fashion brands abroad. A wildly popular collaboration with Target in 2011, which revitalized international interest in the label, included a Missoni-print bicycle. Missoni is scheduled to display its latest menswear creations at a fashion show in Milan this month.

Part of Vittorio Missoni’s strategy has been to focus on the Missoni lifestyle, with ad campaigns featuring many of the family’s glamorous members. The family’s compound in Sardinia has been featured in numerous articles.

In 2005, the company created a successful fragrance business with Estée Lauder andexpanded into the hotel business with the Rezidor Hotel Group.

Vittorio Missoni played a key role in marketing the Missoni family creations in Asia, especially in Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea, as general director of marketing. He also led a push for the company’s products in the U.S. and France, and has been dubbed the company’s “ambassador.”

Material from The New York Times is included in this report.

The Associated Press, 2005
Vittorio Missoni, CEO of Missoni fashion house, with his wife Maurizia Castiglioni. Vittorio is the eldest son of company founder Ottavio.


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