Milan, May 9 - Italian designer Ottavio Missoni, founder with wife Rosita of the Missoni fashion house known worldwide for its trademark colourful knitwear, has died aged 92, his family said on Thursday. His eldest son Vittorio, the 58-year-old CEO of the Italian fashion house, and his wife Maurizia Castiglioni were aboard a small plane that went missing off the Venezuelan coast in January. Ottavio Missoni, known as Tai, was born in 1921 in Dubrovnik, which is known as Ragusa by Italians. He started out as a promising international athlete but his sporting career was interrupted when he was made a prisoner of war in World War II. After the war, he resumed competing in 400 metres and 400m hurdles. He also started designing wool tracksuits which were worn by the Italian team at the 1948 Olympics in London. He came in sixth at the 1948 Olympics and fourth at the European Championships in 1950 before marrying his lifetime business partner Rosita in 1953. The same year they founded their eponymous brand, Missoni, which has evolved through the decades while remaining immediately recognizable for its famous zig-zag patterns. The duo in 1969 built their factory and home in Sumirago, near Varese, where the family still lives and works. By the 1970s the Missonis were among the most prominent Italian fashion designers. Their three children - Vittorio, Angela and Luca - took over in the 1990s and they are credited with giving new life to the label, which had lost some of its appeal. The company is today led by Angela, the label's creative designer, and Luca, the creative director, as well as by a number of grandchildren including Margherita Maccapani Missoni. The label has remained prominent across the decades thanks to its unique style, which has always eschewed trends, and the dashing personality of the Missonis. 'I've never done what was fashionable', Ottavio Missoni told WWD in one of his last interviews. 'I didn't want to work with preset schemes and I paint my own way'.