Italian designer Laura Biagiotti, 73, suffers heart attack

ROME — Italian fashion designer Laura Biagiotti suffered a heart attack that resulted in serious brain damage and was in critical condition Thursday in a Rome hospital.

The 73-year-old suffered the cardiac arrest at her home Wednesday evening, according to officials with the Sant'Andrea hospital where she was being treated.

The brain damage resulted from a lack of oxygen to it. Tests were being performed to verify possible brain death, the hospital said.

Biagiotti, one of the earliest Italian female designers to go global with her creations, is known for luxurious knits that won her the nickname "Queen of Cashmere." Her company also produced several perfumes, including the popular "Roma" fragrance.

Born in 1943, Biagiotti abandoned plans to become an archaeologist to help her mother run a dressmaking business.

In those early years, she traveled frequently to the United States to learn business and technology. After collaborating with such famous fashion houses as Shubert and Capucci she presented her own collection in Florence in 1972.

"Being a fashion designer is like taking vows. It becomes your religion for life," she told The Associated Press in 1987.

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