Italian fashion designer Carla Fendi dies at 79

Italian fashion designer Carla Fendi dies at 79

Italian luxury fashion designer Carla Fendi died late on Monday at the age of 79 after a long illness, her family announced on Tuesday.

Fendi played a key role along with her four sisters in developing and expanding her parents' small leather workshop, transforming the business into a global luxury fashion brand.

The fashion legend had a strong bond with long-standing creative director Karl Lagerfeld, who helped design clothes, furs, and accessories.

The company later expanded into ready-to-wear, shoes, perfume, household goods and children's wear, and in her later years, Fendi became a well-known patron of the arts and Italian craftsmanship.

Fendi had a lifelong commitment to her native city's culture and heritage and the foundation she set up with her husband Candido funded the restoration of Rome's famous Trevi Fountain.

A lover of art and music, Fendi was chief patron of the Two Worlds arts festival in the Umbrian city of Spoleto.

"This is a sad day for Italian culture - we will feel the loss of a cultured an sensitive woman," said Italy's culture minister Dario Francheschini.

"Farewell Carla Fendi, great Roman citizen who with her creativity and business talent brought Italian fashion to the whole world," tweeted Rome's grassroots mayor Virginia Raggi.

Fendi's casket coffin will lie in state at Rome's town hall on Wednesday and her funeral will be held Thursday in the capital at the Basilica di Santa Maria in Montesanto, known as 'The Church of the Artists'.