Rome, June 20 - Carla Fendi, one of five sisters who transformed her family's leather goods company into a global fashion house, has died in Rome after a long illness. She was 79. Carla Fendi, together with sisters Paola, Anna, Franca and Alda, opened the first Fendi store in the capital in 1964. One year later, the sisters hired a young designer, Karl Lagerfeld, paving the way for the house's ascent as a global powerhouse with a focus on leather goods and luxury furs. Creative director Lagerfeld last year marked his 50th anniversary with the brand. Carla's niece, Silvia Venturini Fendi, daughter of Anna Fendi, has co-creatively directed the brand since 1994. Fendi in the 1950s joined the small firm founded by parents Adele and Edoardo in 1925 . While other members of the family were regarded as the company's creative forces, Carla mainly focused on coordinating the brand's marketing and PR, contributing to the its success in the United States in the 1960s. Over time the label's logo of two Fs, one of them upside-down and backwards, became an internationally recognized symbol for luxury with a range of fashion must-haves to its name including the famous Baguette Bag. Carla was the company's president until the fashion house was sold to French luxury group LVMH in 1999, after which she served as honorary president. In addition to her work with the brand, she set up in 2007 the Carla Fendi Foundation whose philanthropic work focused on the preservation of "cultural heritage and values from the past" and on guaranteeing "their continuity and future growth, primarily in the art, literature, cinema, fashion, environment and social sectors", according to its website. The foundation, among others, has funded the restoration of the Trevi Fountain in Rome in 2016 and sponsored musical institution Accademia Nazionale Santa Cecilia since 2010 and the Two Worlds Festival in Spoleto Fendi used to stress that such initiatives were of "pure philanthropism" and were not sponsorships. "My husband pushed me to become a patron", she used to say of her spouse Candido Speroni, who died in 2013 aged 83. In 2010 the couple had celebrated 50 years of marriage.
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