BERLIN – German fashion designer Rudolph Moshammer, known in celebrity pages and on talk shows for his black bouffant and mischievous smile, was slain early Friday in his villa outside Munich, police said.
The 64-year-old socialite, who was never far from his Yorkshire terrier, Daisy, appeared to have been strangled, authorities said. A chauffeur discovered the body near a first-floor bedroom.
The cause of death was “violence to the neck,” Prosecutor Christian Schmidt-Sommerfeld said at a news conference, adding that 20 investigators were working on the case.
Moshammer’s death set off instant remembrances and eulogies for one of the nation’s more eccentric characters – a man with a perpetual tan and a gregarious laugh who designed clothes for the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, tenor Jose Carreras, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, and Siegfried and Roy.
“He was a Munich original,” Mayor Christian Ude said of Moshammer, “a bird of paradise who loved glamorous appearance.”
Known as “Mosi,” Moshammer became a distinct voice in the fashion industry more than three decades ago. In 1968, he opened a boutique on Munich’s Maximilianstrasse, the equivalent of New York’s Fifth Avenue. Tourist buses would often honk in front of his shop until he stepped out to sign autographs.
Moshammer was known for his tie designs and flamboyance; his styles were reminiscent of the 18th and 19th centuries. He preferred cashmere, silk and fur.
In 2002, Moshammer raised nearly $60,000 by auctioning a white linen shirt that had been owned by Napoleon and was discovered in a carriage after the Battle of Waterloo. The money went to Light for the Homeless, a nonprofit organization the designer founded to assist the poor.
Not always satisfied with the fashion business, Moshammer unsuccessfully entered the Eurovision Song Contest. He wrote a cookbook and an autobiography, “Mama and Me.” He also published, as one critic put it, “a tell-all book from the perspective of (his) doggie darling, Daisy.”
A month ago, Moshammer offered his opinion on beauty and fashion to the Austrian newspaper Der Standard: “In good times beauty is not so important. In good times we have sold T-shirts with holes, and the people have said, ‘Very nice but not enough holes.’ In bad times, like now, beauty is really demanded. You are eager for romance, for moods.”