CARACAS/MILAN Venezuelan air and sea rescue services were searching on Saturday for a plane carrying fashion executive Vittorio Missoni, his wife and four others which went missing off the coast of Venezuela.
The plane carrying Missoni, 58, his wife, Maurizia Castiglioni, another couple and two Venezuelan crew members disappeared after taking off from the resort of Los Roques, an archipelago off the coast, the company said in a statement.
"It disappeared yesterday. They have been looking for it with helicopters and ships, but have not found anything yet. They are still searching for it this morning," the Italian consul in Venezuela, Giovanni Davoli, told Reuters by phone.
Missoni is the oldest son of the founders of the fashion house famous for its exuberantly colored knits, featuring bold stripes and zigzags. He is co-owner with siblings Luca and Angela, who handle the technical and design sides of the firm.
"The Missoni family has been informed by the Venezuelan consulate that Vittorio Missoni and his wife are missing, but we don't know any more," said Missoni spokeswoman Maddalena Aspes.
Other members of the Missoni family are travelling back to Italy from a holiday in France, Aspes said.
Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzani posted a banner headline on the magazine's website saying "bring Vittorio Missoni home".
Expressions of sympathy and support for the family flooded onto social media site Twitter.
Missoni and his siblings took over managing the company from their parents Ottavio and Rosita in 1996, aiming to relaunch the brand to a larger, younger market as rivals Gucci and Burberry have done. Under Vittorio's tenure, Missoni has opened hotels in Edinburgh and Kuwait and launched the Missoni Home collection.
By 2011, the brand's appeal was wide enough for U.S. mass-market retailer Target to ask it to design a collection.
The brand will celebrate its 60th anniversary this year.
(Reporting by Jennifer Clark and Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Louise Ireland)