Monday, February 17, 2014

Fashion designer Michele Savoia found dead

Designer Michele Savoia with singer Ricky Martin
The body of an eccentric Manhattan designer was hauled from the icy Hudson River Sunday, days after he vanished during a night of Fashion Week partying, authorities said.

Mens’ suitmaker Michele Savoia, 55, who was last seen alive in the predawn hours Thursday, was found in the Hudson off Chelsea Piers, near where he docked his 42-foot Chris-Craft yacht.

“I’m just so glad they found the body,” his girlfriend, Juli Berg, told The Post. “Not knowing was the worst.”

Cops said there was no sign of foul play and they believe Savoia, who lived on the boat, was drunk and accidentally fell into the river.

“I texted him early Thursday morning,” Berg said. “I didn’t hear anything. I tried to call him a few hours later, and both of his phones were off.”

Savoia’s cellphone and ID were on his body when an NYPD scuba unit found him at around 1:25 p.m.

“He never made it to the boat,” Berg said. “The weather was really bad that night. When you walk down onto the pier, there is a metal ramp. I think that’s where he fell.”

Savoia was found wearing the same raccoon-fur coat he had on the night he vanished.

“I knew if it got wet it would be like a lead weight,” Berg said.
Savoia was last been seen by friends at 4 a.m. Thursday as he left Chelsea’s Marquee nightclub.

Several pals of the flamboyant designer — whose clients included Robert De Niro, Ricky Martin, Mickey Rourke and Chris Noth — grew worried and went to his boat to look for him.

Savoia had finished teaching a class at the Fashion Institute of Technology at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, had dinner with friends, and then went to the Norwood Club with a male friend.

The two hit Marquee at around 12:40 a.m. Thursday. Savoia spent about $600 on drinks before leaving alone at 4 a.m., a source said.

Video shows him staggering into a black SUV at 27th Street and 10th Avenue. The car turns a corner and parks, with Savoia emerging a few minutes later. He is seen walking south — in the middle of 10th Avenue — toward 26th Street. 

“He just had a lust for life,” Berg said. “That’s why I fell in love with him. I never met anyone like him before.”

Savoia would meet clients out on his boat and sometimes take them for a cruise up the Hudson.

“He just loved doing things visually,” Berg said. “He always said that he built suits. He never said he made suits.”

Other friends remembered Savoia — who also owned a 1958 Harley — as a one-of-a-kind artist who lived his life to the fullest.

“It’s a tragedy. He was one of my best friends for 30 years,” his business partner Felix Rodrigues said through tears after Savoia’s body was found.

“He was a talented man. Everyone knew him — he was a crazy s.o.b. If I had to describe Michele Savoia in any way, it would be a red Corvette driving 150 miles down the highway without a driver.” 

 by Jamie Schram and Joe Tacopino via New York Post - Additional reporting by Gabrielle Fonrouge

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