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Gilberto Benetton, co-founder of fashion label Benetton, dies

Gilberto Benetton, one of the co-founders of fashion giant United Colors of Benetton, has passed away aged 77.

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He died at his home in Treviso in North-eastern Italy following a short illness surrounded by his close family. He founded the world famous fashion label in 1965 alongside his sister Giuliana and brothers Carlo and Luciano. Carlo Benetton died in July after battling cancer.

The siblings became billionaires selling their brightly coloured clothes but the label is best known for its provocative advertising campaigns that often highlighted important social issues including LGBTI rights and HIV.

Their United Colors of Benetton advertisements often used models from different nationalities at a time when advertising and fashion was predominantly focussed on white models.

The label launched many memorable campaigns including an image of American man David Kirby, photographed in 1990 in his final moments, dying of an AIDS related illness. The advertising campaign, that authorised by Kirby’s family, colourised a back and white photograph and put it on billboard and in magazine’s around the world. Many people found the image striking because the dying man looked remarkably like an image of Jesus.

In the days before Photoshop artist Ann Rhoney worked with oil paints to painstakingly bring the photo to life by adding colour.

Benetton often highlighted important social causes through it’s magazine Colors. The magazine which is still published today often tackled topics like racism, poverty and safe sex. In 2011 a controversial, but memorable, campaign photoshopped carious world leaders so it looked like they were kissing.

Gilberto Benetton looked after the business interests of the family and they invested in a wide range of Italian businesses including hotels, a chain of roadside restaurants and the company which operates a significant proportion of Italy’s motorways. Gilberto was also on the boards of insurer Allianz, tyre giant Pirelli and an investment bank.

OIP Staff


 

 

 

 

 

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