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France Vuitton Foundation Jacques Brinon/AP

In this Oct. 20, 2014 file photo, Carla Fendi arrives at the inauguration of architect Frank Gehry's latest creation, the Louis Vuitton Foundation art museum and cultural center in Paris.

June 20, 2017

Carla Fendi, philanthropist and fashion force, dies at 79

One of the five sisters of the fashion house known for its furs and exotic designs passed away after a long illness

MILAN — Carla Fendi, one of the five sisters who transformed the family leather goods business into a global luxury fashion house long known for its furs, has died following a long illness. She was 79.

The Rome-based fashion house confirmed Fendi's death Monday, expressing pain for the loss and gratitude for her continued contributions.

The sisters opened the first Fendi store in Rome's historic center in 1964, and a year later hired a young designer named Karl Lagerfeld who helped catapult the Italian brand into global fame, with a focus on designing luxury furs.

Each sister had her role, and Carla Fendi, as Fendi president, was the family business' public face until they sold to the French luxury group LVMH in 1999. She was honorary president until her death.