Style setter

Mariuccia Mandelli, fashion designer behind hot pants, dies at 90

Italian designer Mariuccia Mandelli (C), surrounded by models, acknowledge an applause on the catwalk at the end of Krizia's Spring/Summer 1995 ready-to-wear women's collection in Milan in this October 3, 1994 file photo. Mariuccia Mandelli, founder of the Krizia fashion brand, has died at 90. (REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini)

Designer Mariuccia Mandelli, founder of Italy’s first ready-to-wear fashion house, Krizia, died in her Milan home this week at the age of 90.

Bergamo-born Mandelli got her start in the fashion world in the 1950s after quitting her job, borrowing a sewing machine, and making clothes to sell out of the back of her Fiat 500. Her designs explored knitwear (most famously featuring images of animals), classic tailoring, pleats, and is credited as the mind behind one of the iconic 1970s fashion staples, hot pants. Under her eye, Krizia was credited as one of the only high-profile female designers who dressed men just as well as she dressed women. Mandelli described herself as a feminist and a socialist. She was the founder and designer of the Caribbean’s luxury K-Club resort and was also the owner of a publishing house that offered Italian translations of famous authors, including Virginia Woolf.

“I would be ashamed to tell women, ‘You must dress like this or like that because it is the year’s fashion,’ ” Mandelli said in an interview quoted by The Chicago Tribune in 1987 and featured in her New York Times obituary. “Everyone must dress as they like, provided that the dress becomes for them a second skin.”

Read the full obituary at the New York Times.

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