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Plane carrying Missoni fashion director found off Venezuela

By Joe Sterling, CNN
updated 8:35 PM EDT, Thu June 27, 2013
A small plane carrying Italian fashion director Vittorio Missoni and his wife, Maurizia Castiglioni, has been missing off the coast of Venezuela since Friday, January 4. The couple is pictured in Milan, Italy, in 2010. A small plane carrying Italian fashion director Vittorio Missoni and his wife, Maurizia Castiglioni, has been missing off the coast of Venezuela since Friday, January 4. The couple is pictured in Milan, Italy, in 2010.
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Italian fashion boss Missoni
Italian fashion boss Missoni
Italian fashion boss Missoni
Italian fashion boss Missoni
Italian fashion boss Missoni
Italian fashion boss Missoni
Italian fashion boss Missoni
Italian fashion boss Missoni
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The plane went missing in January
  • It was found off Venezuela's coast
  • Missoni is known for its patterned knitwear and signature zigzag stripe

(CNN) -- Nearly six months after it went missing off Venezuela's coast, authorities have located the small plane that was carrying Italian fashion boss Vittorio Missoni and five others, the country's Interior Ministry announced Thursday.

The aircraft disappeared on January 4 as it left Los Roques, an archipelago and resort, for the international airport outside Caracas, about 90 miles away. Vittorio Missoni, his wife, and four others -- including a pilot and copilot -- were all on board. All are presumed dead.

Celebrated designer Gianni Versace was killed on July 15, 1997, allegedly by suspected mass-murderer Andrew Cunanan. Versace's sister, Donatella, took over the Versace company three months after he died. Ten years after Versace's death, Italy's fashion capital paid tribute to the slain fashion designer with a glittering ballet performance at Milan's La Scala opera house. Celebrated designer Gianni Versace was killed on July 15, 1997, allegedly by suspected mass-murderer Andrew Cunanan. Versace's sister, Donatella, took over the Versace company three months after he died. Ten years after Versace's death, Italy's fashion capital paid tribute to the slain fashion designer with a glittering ballet performance at Milan's La Scala opera house.
Fashion world shockers: Gianni Versace
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Shocking fashion tragedies and scandals Shocking fashion tragedies and scandals
The rise of an Italian fashion empire
Missing fashion mogul
Fashion mogul's mysterious disappearance

Missoni, 58, ran the famed Missoni fashion house with his siblings, Luca and Angela. Neither sibling was on the plane.

With the help of an American ship with special oceanographic technology, the plane was located off the coast of Key Carenero, within the Los Roques archipelago, according to a family statement published by Italy's ANSA news agency.

"At this time, efforts are underway to recover the wreckage," the families of those aboard the plane said in the statement. "The families would like to thank the Venezuelan and Italian governments for its commitments in finding the wreckage and the family is confident that the investigation into the cause of the incident."

Family: 'We will not give up'

Venezuelan authorities had launched intensive search efforts with boats, helicopters and divers scouring the area for any sign of the missing plane. A bag from the plane washed up on the island of Curacao some 124 miles away from where the aircraft disappeared three weeks after the aircraft went missing.

The fashion house, which boasts such celebrity clients as Katie Holmes, Cameron Diaz and Nicole Richie, is a high-end fashion label known for its patterned knitwear and signature zigzag stripe.

The private company, based in Milan, Italy, has estimated annual sales of between $75 million and $100 million.

The brand, first created in 1953 as a knitwear workshop in Gallarte, Italy, has expanded from apparel to housewares, a fragrance line and a chain of hotels.

Stefano Tonchi, editor-in-chief of W magazine, called the Missonis "one of the most important Italian fashion families," crediting their move to Milan in the late 1960s with helping make the northern Italian city the fashion hub it is today.

Vittorio Missoni and his siblings took over the brand in 1996 with an eye toward marketing to a younger consumer.

The fashion house partnered with Target in 2011 to produce a more budget-friendly collection for the discount retailer, which caused Target's website to crash due to the high demand.

CNN's Jessica King and Alexander Hunter contributed to this report.

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