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Piero Tosi, ‘The Leopard,’ ‘Death in Venice’ Costume Designer, Dies at 92

Piero Tosi, a famed costume designer who worked on films such as “The Leopard” and “Death in Venice,” died Saturday in Rome, the Franco Zeffirelli Foundation announced on Facebook. He was 92.

Over the course of his 50 year career, Tosi established himself as one of Hollywood’s greatest costume designers, earning five Oscar nominations for costume design and an honorary Oscar in 2013. He also garnered international acclaim for a number of popular films including, “The Damned,” “Ludwig,” “Death in Venice” and “The Leopard,” in which his elaborate, period-piece designs took center stage. Other film credits include “La Cage Aux Folles,” “The Night Porter,” “Toby Dammit” and the Oscar foreign language film-winner “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.”

After growing up in Florence Italy, Tosi landed his first job as a costume assistant on a stage production of “Le chandelier,” before meeting the legendary stage and film director Luchino Visconti. Soon after, Tosi went on to work as a costume assistant on Visconti’s 1949 Florentine production of “Troilus and Cressida,” moving to Rome shortly after.

Several years later, Tosi made his film debut with Visconti’s 1954 “Senso,” setting him on a path toward world-wide renown within the costuming industry. In 1963, Tosi garnered his first Oscar nomination for “The Leopard,” followed by another nod for Visconti’s “Death in Venice,” for which he designed almost 700 period costumes. Later on, he earned another three Oscar nominations for “Ludwig,” “La Cage Aux Folles” and “La Traviata.”

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In a recent interview with Variety, Tosi spoke to his love of films and the legacy he is leaving behind.

“Hollywood movies had their own identity in the past. Majestic and elegant scenes of Busby Berkeley’s musicals, as a child, made me dream, making me forget for a moment war and misery Italy was going through,” he said. “I was happy but never a slave because I always thought the best reward was the satisfaction for doing a good job.”

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