Carla Fendi, philanthropist and fashion force, has died

Fendi as a fashion brand was known for its furs

FILE - In this, Oct. 20, 2014 file photo Carla Fendi arrives at the inauguration of architect Frank Gehry's latest creation, the Louis Vuitton Foundation art museum and cultural center in Paris. Carla Fendi, one of the five sisters who transformed the family leather goods business into a global luxury fashion house long known for its furs, has died following a long illness. The Rome-based fashion house confirmed Fendi’s death Monday, June 19, 2017, at the age of 79, expressing pain for the loss and gratitude for her continued contributions. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)

MILAN (AP) — Carla Fendi, one of the five sisters who transformed the family leather goods business into a global luxury fashion house long known for its furs, has died following a long illness. She was 79.

The Rome-based fashion house confirmed Fendi’s death Monday, expressing pain for the loss and gratitude for her continued contributions.

The sisters opened the first Fendi store in Rome’s historic center in 1964, and a year later hired a young designer named Karl Lagerfeld who helped catapult the Italian brand into global fame, with a focus on designing luxury furs.

Each sister had her role, and Carla Fendi, as Fendi president, was the family business’ public face until they sold to the French luxury group LVMH in 1999. She was honorary president until her death.