A native of Venice, got into the luxury goods business as few other designers have: through dire necessity. A Jew, she was forced to flee Mussolini's Italy in November 1943. With her husband, a banker, she escaped via rail to Lugano, Switzerland.
Mrs. Camerino, who won't reveal her age, is not one to be self-effacing. Of the striped velvet bags she made in the 40's and 50's, she said, ''To put together three different colors in this period was a revolution.'' Of her first fashion show in Venice in 1949, one that used theatrics, she maintained, ''It was the first fashion show done like a production.'' (In reality, it was not.)
Still, it is hard to dispute Mrs. Camerino's claim of being copied by other, better-known designers. ''In the bag business, everyone's going to say that,'' said Candy Pratts Price, the former accessories director of Vogue, but she added, it would be difficult to contend that Mrs. Camerino's bag shapes have not been widely imitated. One can see the designer's influence in the velvet, jewel-tone bags that Prada showed a few seasons ago. Mrs. Camerino recalled that her friend Coco Chanel, no stranger to being knocked off, once told her she would shed tears the day no one copied her. - From NY Times Style Section Article, 1999