Footwear legend Sergio Rossi has died at the age of 84, reportedly from COVID-19, after being hospitalized several days ago. One of the most influential luxury shoe designers of the 20th century, Rossi was born in 1935 in a part of Italy that’s known for its shoemaking expertise, San Mauro Pascoli.
Trained in Milan and Bologna, as well as by his own father, he began his independent business in the early 1950s. And in those early years was best known for the ultra-feminine sandals that he would spend the winter making to sell in beach resorts during the summer season. The brand he founded continues to be known for its exquisite sandals.
The Sergio Rossi label as we know it today didn’t launch until 1968, but quickly established itself as a major fashion force and became known for its powerful designs.
Rossi combined both a strong design aesthetic with a technical mastery that also made the label appeal to other fashion brands and saw it collaborating with big-hitters such as Dolce & Gabbana and Gianni Versace.
Kering (then known as PPR) bought control of his firm in 1999 but sold it to private equity giant Investindustrial in 2015. The company relaunched the label in 2016 and has heavily referenced its archive since then, highlighting the enduring appeal of the designs produced under Rossi’s creative control.