Leah Gottlieb, Founder of Gottex Swimwear, 94

Leah Gottlieb, the Hungarian-born designer whose Gottex swimwear label was worn by celebrities such as Princess Diana and Elizabeth Taylor, died on Nov. 20 at her home in Tel Aviv, Israel. She was 94.

Born Leah Lenke Roth, Gottlieb fled the Nazis after her husband, Armin Gottlieb, was sent to a labor camp during World War II. He survived, and the two moved with their two daughters to Israel in 1949 as part of the Jewish exodus to a new country taking root in the Middle East.

The Gottliebs had little money in their newfound homeland. Leah sold her wedding ring to a buy a sewing machine and fabric to start making childrenswear.

After launching a raincoat factory in Tel Aviv in a country where it hardly ever rains, she and her husband in 1956 started Gottex, a name derived from a combination of their last name and the word “textile.”

Gottex was known for its vivid and colorful prints that at the beginning incorporated birds, flowers and waves. One-piece silhouettes were the line’s hallmark, selling at high-end stores such as Neiman Marcus, Harrod’s and Saks Fifth Avenue.

At its peak in the 1980s, the company reported revenues of $40 million and saw its swimwear collection sold in more than 60 countries.

Armin Gottlieb, who ran the financial side of the business, died in 1995. Gottex was later sold to Africa Israel Investments, but Leah resigned in 2001 to start another swimwear label that bore her name. Gottlieb’s daughter Judith Gottlieb, also a swimwear designer, died in 2003.

Today, the Gottex label is part of the annual runway lineup at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim in Miami Beach, Fla.

Gottlieb is survived by one daughter, Miriam Ruzow, who used to run the Gottex showroom in New York, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Deborah Belgum