Giuliana Camerino, who designed timeless bags carried by Grace Kelly, Liz Taylor, dies at 90

MILAN (AP) — Giuliana Coen Camerino, designer of handbags carried by Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor and others, has died at age 90.

Camerino died overnight in Venice, home of the fashion house she founded in 1945 called Roberta di Camerino. She suddenly took ill on the nearby peninsula of Istria, on the eastern shores of the Adriatic, according to a statement Tuesday by her fashion house.

Camerino is credited with making handbags a fashion item. Her distinctive and timeless bags would typically sport brass clasps created by Venetian craftsman who make accents for gondolas or be made of velvet woven on antique looms.

Born Coen, Camerino started designing handbags while in exile during World War II in Switzerland, where she fled to escape persecution of Jews in Italy. She created the name for her fashion house, which also made shoes and apparel, from the 1935 film "Roberta" starring Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, and her husband's family name.

Her talents were recognized by the Whitney Museum of American Art with an exhibit in 1980.

Venice Mayor Giorgio Orsoni called Camerino a "friend and great Venetian entrepreneur ... who contributed to spreading the name of Venice and Made in Italy in the whole world."

She will be buried Thursday in Venice's Jewish cemetery. She is survived by a son, Ugo, and a daughter, Roberta.