Missoni CEO Missing

Splash News

By CBS News

The disappearance of Vittorio Missoni, CEO of the Missoni fashion house, comes at a critical time in the fashion world; as labels prepare to debut fall 2013 collections in New York (Feb. 7-14), London (Feb. 15-19), Milan (Feb. 19-26) and Paris (Feb. 26-March 6).

The fashion executive was last seen returning from vacation with his wife and four others on a small plane that disappeared off the coast of Venezuela on Jan. 4.

The Missoni fashion house, with its trademark zigzag and other geometric patterns in sweaters, scarves and other knitwear, is one of Italy's most famous fashion brands abroad. It is scheduled to display its latest menswear creations at a fashion show in Milan later this month. A pre-fall 2013 collection, featuring a mix of menswear-inspired items and feminine elements, was shown in December.

The luxury label, worn by such stars as Madonna and Jennifer Lopez, was founded in the 1953 by Ottavio and Rosita Missoni. Their children -- Vittorio, Luca and Angela -- took over the company in the 1990s, according to The New York Times. Vittorio has managed the company's commercial and manufacturing operations; Angela is the designer; and Luca the creative director.

The siblings have been credited with revitalizing the brand's appeal. That includes Missoni's wildly popular 2011 collaboration with Target -- a 400-piece line that included clothes, luggage, housewares and even a bicycle.

Vittorio Missoni played a key role in marketing the Missoni family creations in Asia, especially in Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea as general director of marketing for Missoni SpA. He also spearheaded a push for the company's products in the United States and France. His efforts to expand the brand abroad led Missoni to be dubbed the company's "ambassador."

According to Bloomberg, fashion insiders are saying the Missoni label is strong enough to overcome the disappearance of its chief executive and they point to the way the house of Versace bounced back after founder Gianni Versace was murdered in Florida in 1997 and how Sarah Burton has kept the Alexander McQueen label in the headlines after the designer committed suicide in 2010.

Venezuela's government said authorities would not call off the search involving the National Civil Aviation Institute, Coast Guard and Navy until they find the BN-2 Islander plane that disappeared off South American country's coast and all of those who were on board.

"All the authorities involved in these tasks are not reducing the intensity of the search until they locate the plane as well as its crew and passengers," the government said in a written statement. It said search teams are using a plane and two helicopters as well as several Coast Guard vessels and 29 divers.

The small, twin-engine plane was reported missing hours after taking off from Los Roques, a string of islands and islets popular among tourists for their white beaches and coral reefs.

The plane was carrying Missoni, his wife, two Italian friends and two Venezuelan crew members.

Officials from Venezuela's civil aviation agency have said that authorities declared an alert after the plane didn't make contact with the control tower at the Caracas airport or with the tower in Los Roques. The plane took off at 11:39 a.m. on Friday and had been expected to arrive at Caracas' Simon Bolivar International Airport 42 minutes later, according to officials.