NEW YORK — Piero Tosi, a costume designer whose careful research and intuitive eye were prized by leading Italian directors such as Vittorio De Sica, Mauro Bolognini and especially Luchino Visconti, died on Saturday in Rome. He was 92.
The Franco Zeffirelli Foundation announced his death on Facebook. Zeffirelli, who died in June, and Mr. Tosi had been friends since their student days in Florence, Italy.
Mr. Tosi dressed some of the biggest stars of the day — Sophia Loren, Maria Callas, Claudia Cardinale, Marcello Mastroianni, Burt Lancaster. He was nominated for the costume design Oscar five times — for the Visconti films “The Leopard” (1963), “Death in Venice” (1971) and “Ludwig” (1973), for Édouard Molinaro’s “La Cage Aux Folles” (1979; he shared the nomination with Ambra Danon), and for Zeffirelli’s “La Traviata” (1982).
Although he never won that prize, in 2013 he did receive an Honorary Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors, the first costume designer to do so.
The citation called him “a visionary whose incomparable costume designs shaped timeless, living art in motion pictures.”
Mr. Tosi was born on April 10, 1927, in Florence. He attended the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence.
In a 2013 interview with Port magazine, Mr. Tosi described how his friendship with Zeffirelli led to his entree into the film business. He was in Florence in the late 1940s, he said, when Visconti turned up there to direct a stage production of “Troilus and Cressida” at the Musical May Festival. Zeffirelli made the introductions, and he was offered a job as third assistant to the production’s costume designer.
“Of course I was so pleased and accepted straight away,” he told Port. “This is how my career started, really”
As for the clothes, he said that achieving the proper look involved melding cloth, actor and character.
“I gradually shape the costume on the actor,” he said. “I work on the actor, step by step. After that one has to find the nature of the character. In the end the costume is not just clothing any more, but it becomes the skin of the character.”