PASSINGS: Yuri Dubinin, Sergio Loro Piana

Yuri Dubinin

Perestroika-era Soviet ambassador to U.S.

Yuri Dubinin, 83, the Soviet Union's ambassador to the United States during much of the turbulent 1980s' perestroika period, died Friday. The Russian Foreign Ministry announced his death in Moscow but did not give the cause.

Dubinin became ambassador to the U.S. in 1986 after serving a short stint as the Soviet envoy to the United Nations. He stayed in that post until becoming ambassador to France in 1990. After the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Dubinin was a Russian deputy foreign minister from 1994 to 1996.

In his Washington post, the silver-haired Dubinin described himself as a "popularizer of perestroika," the reform efforts of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Dubinin also oversaw opening up the Russian Embassy to news conferences under Gorbachev's initiatives.

Born in Moscow on Oct. 7, 1930, Dubinin earned a degree in history before beginning his foreign service career in 1955. He served in the Soviet Embassy in Paris and from 1956 to 1959 was assigned to the secretariat of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO.

In the 1960s and '70s Dubinin, who was fluent in French and Spanish, shuttled between Moscow's Foreign Ministry, where he rose to head of the European Department, and the Soviet Embassy in Paris before he was named ambassador to Spain in 1978.

He spent eight years in Spain and during his tenure traveled to Pamplona for the annual running of the bulls, wearing the traditional red scarf and enthusiastically professing his familiarity with "The Sun Also Rises," Ernest Hemingway's novel set in Spain and France.

Sergio Loro Piana

Firm specializes in luxury fabrics

Sergio Loro Piana, 65, who co-headed an Italian family company known for ultra-high-end cashmere and other fabrics, died Friday after a long illness, according an Associated Press report.

The Italian news service, ANSA, said he died in Milan but did not give a specific cause of death.

The Loro Piana company, which goes back six generations, was run by Sergio with his younger brother, Pier Luigi. It was basically a textile firm until the 1992 Olympics when it made jackets for Italy's equestrian team, according to a company profile that ran in the International Herald Tribune in 2008. The jacket was so popular that the company, under the guidance of the brothers, began also making clothing for retail ,and it eventually opened its own stores — but not for the masses.

Women's cashmere sweaters in Loro Piana shops start at about $1,600. And those are bargains compared to other items, such as the Icer ski jacket for men priced at $19,695. It's made of wool sheered from the vicuna, a goat-sized animal that lives in the Andes and was once nearly extinct. In 2008 the company established its own reserve for the animals in Peru.

Earlier this month the French LVMH group closed a deal to buy 80% of the Loro Piana firm for about $2.7 billion. The deal was controversial in Italy because it took majority ownership of the company outside the country. But Sergio Loro Piana said the move would give the firm the resources it needed to compete with other worldwide luxury brands.

Times staff and wire reports

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