Plane carrying CEO of Missoni fashion house goes missing

In this photo taken on Feb. 23, 2010, Vittorio Missoni poses for photographers in Milan, Italy. The search resumed Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013 for a small plane that has disappeared off the Venezuelan coast with six people aboard, including Vittorio Missoni, a top executive in Italy's Missoni fashion house, officials said. Vittorio Missoni, 58, is the director general of the iconic brand and the eldest son of the company's founder. Flying with him on Friday's flight from Venezuela's Los Roques resort archipelago to Caracas, was Missoni's wife, Maurizia Castiglioni, two Italian friends of the couple, and a crew of two Venezuelans. (AP Photo/Gian Mattia d'Alberto, Lapresse)

UPDATE, Monday, Jan. 7: Rescue crews and officials in Venezuela continue the search for a small plane carrying Vittorio Missoni, the CEO and head of prominent, family-owned and operated Italian fashion house Missoni.

Monday marks the fourth day since the plane vanished from radar screens shortly after departing from Los Roques, a remote, luxurious coastal resort island in Venezuela, for Caracas, the country's capital, at 11:39 Friday morning. Missoni SpA representative Paolo Marchetti told a group of reporters Saturday that the missing aircraft was carrying six people, including Missoni himself, two friends, two crew members, and Missoni's wife Maurizia Castiglioni.

Despite the gravity of the situation, the Missoni family remains vigilant about Vittorio's fate, even hinting at a potential targeted kidnapping. In an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Angela Missoni, sister of the missing Vittorio said Sunday, "Our hope is that he is still alive." ABC News correspondent Matt Gutman reported Monday that the plane went down in area that is "a well known drug smuggling route." The Daily Beast added to this argument by reporting of an "eerie" text message sent late Sunday evening, that's "given family members hope that the missing Milanese designer and fellow passengers are alive and were kidnapped, not victims of an air-sea accident." The contents of the SMS, which was received by the son of Guido Foresti (who was aboard the aircraft with Missoni) read, "Call now, we are reachable." Telecom Italia Mobile confirmed to a local TV station that the message was indeed sent from the device, although the Italian telephone company could not verify the exact date and time the message had been written. The phone has since been shut off.

58-year-old Vittorio Missoni is the son of Ottavio and Rosita Missoni, the founders of the Missoni fashion house. Angela recounted to La Repubblica on how she broke the news of her missing brother to her parents. Missoni said she informed her mother Rosita as soon as she discovered his plane was missing, but waited to tell her father Ottavio until the next morning since "he was very tired." When the elder Missoni saw his wife and daughter standing around him at 5:30 the following morning, he asked, "'What happened? I am 92, but I'm not stupid.'"

Vittorio and his former wife, Tania, have three sons, all in their 20s. The brand is known for its playful knits, colors and patterns, while the Missoni family remains an Italian cultural institution. The family is said to be congregating at a small Italian villa, according to media outlet Ansa. Angela added on behalf of the family, "We want to hope, because for us it is important."

Hence, members of the family have started a social media campaign on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #findvittoriomissoni. Ottavio Missoni Jr. uploaded an Instagram photo Sunday with the text, "Anyone in Venezuela with any information is invited to contact the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs by calling the Crisis Unit or emailing the Ministry Please help us bring Vittorio, Maurizia and their friends home safely. #findvittoriomissoni."

WWD says of Missoni: "An affable and approachable business man, with a passion for sailing and motocross, Missoni is also a highly regarded member of Italy’s Chamber of Fashion and, in his role as vice president of the association, has been contributing to setting up ties with equivalent fashion bodies around the world." In 2011, Missoni debuted an immensely popular limited edition line with Target, generating international attention and acclaim.

MariaLuisa Trussardi, a family friend and head of the Trussardi fashion house, tweeted Saturday, "Vittorio Missoni . Ti pensiamo tutti." Which when translated means, "We are all thinking of you."

The company added, "As more information becomes available the company will issue further statements." Marchetti also asked that reporters, "kindly respect the families’ privacy at this time."

For the full and updated story, click here.

Esther Lee is the style editor of Qualms, quips, questions? Email her, here.