Fashion designer Michele Savoia honored at Chelsea memorial service

Kemberly Richardson has the story from Chelsea.
February 24, 2014 5:00:00 AM PST
Friends and family gathered Sunday to honor a fashion designer who drowned in the Hudson River earlier this month.

A memorial service was held for 55-year-old Michele Savoia in Chelsea.

Police say Savoia slipped and fell into the water while trying to board his boat.

The award-winning designer was remembered for his creative personality, innovative work and devotion to family and friends.

Savoia was last seen on February 13 at club Marquee on the West Side just before 4 a.m. Detectives believe he slipped and fell into the Hudson after going to his boat that he lived on, docked 10 blocks south of Marquee on West 17th Street.

Savoia was first reported missing Saturday morning by his driver.

He was a well-known tailor and menswear designer and was supposed to meet his ex-girlfriend on Valentine's Day night, but he never showed up.

He made suits for celebrities such as Robert DeNiro and Matt Dillon and worked on Broadway costumes.

"He could be difficult, but he was also the most incredible loving friend," friend Kevin Dalton said. "He would literally give you the shirt off his back, even if it cost $5,000."

An autopsy found the cause and manner of death is inconclusive, pending further studies.

Additional toxicology tests will be conducted. Savoia's death is not considered suspicious.

Friends say he knew the dangers of living on the water.

"I slipped on a nice sunny day when it was wet there," Dalton said. "So it was dangerous, but he knew the risks, because if you do stay there, they basically say you're on your own."

Dalton says that he believes Facebook and technology helped police find Savoia's body.

"We kept posting, and any time someone posts, it will send a ping to the phone, so that helped," Dalton said. "In my heart, I knew he was there."

Savoia also taught at the Fashion Institute of Technology and owned a store called "House of Savoia" on the Lower East Side.

He is survived by his 23-year-old daughter.