Santiago Barberi Gonzalez, a Colombian Fashion Star, Dies at 40 – New York Times

Santiago Barberi Gonzalez, the president and artistic director of Nancy Gonzalez, a Colombian equipment agency and one of many largest purveyors of crocodile purses on the planet, died on Friday in New York. He was 40.

His mom, Nancy Gonzalez, confirmed his demise however didn't give the trigger.

Mr. Barberi Gonzalez, a colourful, charismatic determine identified to buddies as Santi, was thought of the artistic visionary and the expansion engine behind the corporate, which he based together with his mom in 1998 whereas he was a pupil at the Savannah School of Artwork and Design. They acquired their first order for simply 16 luggage, he later recalled, in two kinds and three patterns, from Bergdorf Goodman.

“Once we began within the U.S. in 1998, folks had been asking why our label reads ‘Nancy Gonzalez: Colombia — New York,’ as a result of Colombia won't ever be capable of compete with the style capitals like Paris or Milan,” Mr. Barberi Gonzalez instructed The New York Times in 2014. “However we proved them fallacious.”

Right now, Nancy Gonzalez purses are bought at greater than 120 shops world wide, together with Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Harrods and Lane Crawford. The label, which was named Model of the Yr by the Equipment Council in 2007 and received its Innovation Award in 2015, can be seen as a chief of a energetic band of Colombian luxurious manufacturers, together with the likes of Esteban Cortazar and Johanna Ortiz.

Ms. Ortiz was one of many first to honor Mr. Barberi Gonzalez on social media over the weekend as information of his demise unfold on-line.

“Feeling the lack of a nice distinctive profitable human being!” she wrote, alongside a image of Mr. Barberi Gonzalez sitting alone trying debonair in khakis and smiling within the desert. “Thanks for the final calls Santi.”

A bespectacled, diminutive determine with immaculate private style, Mr. Barberi Gonzalez was revered by many within the trend business, who adored his humorousness. Final yr, on a panel at The New York Times luxury conference at Versailles, he mentioned the distinction between producing luggage in Colombia and sneakers in Italy. “Properly for one factor, I don’t personal Italy,” he stated.

Mr. Barberi Gonzalez additionally had a robust sense of accountability to fostering social change inside his native nation. He was diligent about coaching and using native girls in order that, in his phrases at Versailles, “they might have careers, not simply jobs.” These aspects of his character had been famous by buddies and confidants, a lot of whom posted reminiscences and images on-line in current days.

“He was a star,” Nina Garcia, the Colombian trend journalist, wrote on Instagram. Ms. Garcia, the previous trend director at Elle and Marie Claire magazines, posted a image of herself and Mr. Barberi Gonzalez at a celebration and added: #friendsarefamily, #foreverinourhearts and #starsliveon.

Carmen Busquets, the Venezuelan investor identified for holding stakes in trend companies like Moda Operandi, FarFetch and Internet-a-Porter, wrote that her friend had been “humorous, fiercely clever (his apparent excessive IQ would blow you away) bigger than life, keen about design, and the guts of the @nancygonzalezofficial model.” She stated that she can be silent on social media for a week to give attention to his loss.

And Marigay McKee, a guide and the previous president of Saks Fifth Avenue, stated that the world “had misplaced a genius, a character, a one-off this week.”

“You had been at all times there for me over twenty years of friendship,” Ms. McKee wrote on Instagram. “You gave me humor after I was unhappy and your coronary heart expanded after I wanted love. You instructed me off after I wanted placing down and I thanks for this. Your love of artwork, your ardour for tradition and respect for magnificence had been beliefs you lived by and shared with others. Santi I'll miss you each day.”

Mr. Barberi Gonzalez, an avid artwork collector who break up his time between Paris and New York, oversaw his label’s worldwide gross sales, its retailer design and promoting campaigns. His mom ran the design studio for purses.

The model, admired by the likes of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Sarah Jessica Parker and Sofía Vergara, had discovered a devoted following due to its deft use of valuable skins and a vibrant coloration palette, together with an aesthetic rooted within the pure magnificence and wealthy tradition of Colombia.

Its totes and clutches, fabricated from lime-inexperienced crocodile, lavender python, orange ostrich and different brilliantly dyed unique skins, had been additionally favorites of the South American superrich, who might afford the purses’ eye-watering value tags.

Earlier than he died, Mr. Barberi Gonzalez had set new and bold objectives for his household empire. Final June, he unveiled a vary of 25 shoe kinds produced from unique skins, with plans to increase the footwear choices this fall. He had additionally unexpectedly impressed the addition of a Santiago Gonzalez assortment for males. After retailer executives observed him carrying a few one-of-a-kind items he had designed for himself, they requested to put orders.

Moreover his mom, Mr. Barberi Gonzalez is survived by his sister, Cristina.

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