Italian footwear designer Sergio Rossi passed away on April 2 at the ripe age of 84, after contracting the coronavirus and being hospitalized for days in the intensive care unit of the Bufalini hospital in Cesena. With his passing, Italians grieve because a part of them is lost as well.
Rossi, born July 31, 1935, is part of an essential group of designers, from Baldinini to Pollini, and all in between, who made the art of Italian footwear iconic.
Learning the art of shoemaking at age 14 from his father, Rossi became a skilled craftsman early in life and he took pride in selling his hand-made sandals on the beaches of Romagna. Rossi started selling his first shoes in Bologna stores in 1966, before launching his namesake brand in 1968.
In the 1970s Gianni Versace approached Rossi to work on a collaboration. Their union, now famous, was immediately greeted with great ebullience by the world of fashion, marked as a meeting between two geniuses.
Continuing on his rise into the 1980s, Rossi’s brand formed close and deep ties with multiple fashion houses, producing shoes for Dolce & Gabbana (from 1989 to 1999) and for Azzedine Alaïa.
In the late 1990s, the Sergio Rossi brand was bought by the Gucci Group. In December 2015, “Sergio Rossi” returned to Italian ownership, purchased by Andrea Bonomi.
Over the years, Rossi’s masterpieces have been favored with some of Hollywood’s elite actresses, such as Anne Hathaway, Nicole Kidman, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Halle Berry.
After working alongside his father for years, Gianvito Rossi launched his own business in 2006.
“There are those who have had the good fortune to transform their art into work and those who have the extraordinary talent of transforming their work into a work of art,” Gianvitio wrote in a statement. “Sergio Rossi was this man. A husband, father, grandfather, and progenitor of a family that followed his example.”
Rossi’s family honored him on Friday, April 3, a day after the legendary footwear designer passed.
“The family offers, with love, their last goodbye: ‘With the unquenchable fire of your passion, you taught us that there are no limits for those who love what they do,’” Gianvito added. “Goodbye, maestro.’”