Volume 81, Number 18 | October 6 - 12, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Marie Mirisola, 84, fashion designer in the Village
By Albert Amateau
Marie Mirisola, a fashion designer who with her husband, Charles, made and sold women’s clothes in Greenwich Village for many years, died in Beth Israel Hospital on Fri., Sept. 23, at age 84.
She had heart problems and was in ill health for the past several years, said her son Michael.
The daughter of Anthony and Elizabeth LaSalle, she was born in East Harlem. By the time she was ready for elementary school, the family had moved to Brooklyn and moved again to the Lower East Side. Marie went to P.S. 1 on Henry St.
Displaying artistic talent at an early age, she went to Music and Art High School and then entered Fashion Institute of Technology, which had just been formed then.
“She was in the first graduating class at F.I.T.,” Michael said. “She was teaching art to children in Sara Roosevelt Park when she met my father, a college student who was studying in the park.”
Marie LaSalle started her clothing business in a loft at 177 W. Fourth St. near Jones St. in 1948 with a girlfriend from F.I.T. The next year she married Charles Mirisola, a Villager, who bought out the girlfriend’s interest.
“They did all the cutting on W. Fourth St.,” Michael said. “My father took the cuttings to my aunt in Brooklyn, who did the sewing, and he brought them back to the shop in Manhattan.”
Marie and Charles next moved the business to a tiny shop on Cornelia St. But some neighbors complained, so they had to move again, this time to a factory loft above the Purple Onion, a stripper bar on W. Third St. near Sixth Ave. next to The Blue Note.
In 1951, the business grew exponentially when Lord & Taylor became a client and other major department stores began buying. The cutting had moved to a loft at 29 W. Eighth St. and then to Seventh Ave. and Bleecker St.
“A lot of the sewing was done by contractors on Spring St.,” said Michael.
The business had a loft on 57th St. and one on 38th St. near Lord & Taylor. The last location was on Sixth Ave. near Eighth St. above Bigelow Pharmacy, Michael said.
“She was doing all this and raising five kids,” he said.
In 1960, Marie began importing women’s shoes from Italy and selling them in the Etcetera Shop on Eighth St.
“She would visit the factory in Italy and kept asking, ‘Can you do it this way or that way,’ and they finally said, ‘Signora, why don’t you design them yourself?’ ” Michael said.
In the late 1970s, Marie and Charles sold the manufacturing business.
“But my father kept the retail shop on Eighth St. and my mother designed coats for Braefair,” he said.
She continued designing coats until 10 years ago when her health declined, said Michael, who for several years ran the shop on Christopher St. He also served on Community Board 2, covering Greenwich Village, and for the past 11 years has been project support manager for the city School Construction Authority.
In addition to Michael, her husband, Charles, survives. Also surviving are another son, Charles, and two daughters, Mary Ronk of Westfield, N.J., and Elizabeth Desmond of Westchester, and 11 grandchildren. The eldest son, Joseph, died nine years ago.
Perazzo Funeral Home, 199 Bleecker St., was in charge of arrangements. The Mass of Christian Burial was at Our Lady of Pompei Church on Carmine St. on Wed., Sept. 28, and burial was in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Queens.