THE fashion and arts worlds have lost a legend with the passing of Peter Weiss last Sunday, aged 84.
The man known as the “godfather of Australian fashion” launched his first clothing line in 1975 and went on to run a chain of more than 40 stores and also make corporate uniforms for clients including Ansett Airlines, Westpac and Medibank Private.
Outside of fashion, he was a major benefactor to the arts, supporting the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Sydney Symphony, the Art Gallery of NSW and the University of Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music, where he had studied.
In 2018 he announced donations of $1 million to both the Sydney Opera House and Art Gallery of NSW.
Sydney Opera House CEO Louise Herron said this week, “Peter was an inspiration, a most generous philanthropist.
“He cared deeply about people, relationships and art in all its forms. I loved being with him and will miss him immensely, as will so many others.”
With chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) taking its toll on his health since 2012 and a 2018 lung cancer diagnosis, Weiss in February donated $4 million towards COPD research being undertaken by University of Sydney researchers at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research (WIMR) and Westmead Hospital.
WIMR Centre for Virus Research director Professor Tony Cunningham extended his condolences to Weiss’ family and friends on Tuesday.
“Peter’s significant contribution toward WIMR’s medical research, aimed at improving outcomes for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other serious lung diseases, cannot be overstated,” he said.
“We will continue to work with passion and purpose, in his name, to achieve our shared, ultimate goal – saving lives.”
University of Sydney vice-chancellor Michael Spence said, “Typical of his decades of generosity as a philanthropist to many organisations was the decision last year to contribute $4 million to the university for critical research into a chronic lung disease that he was diagnosed with several years earlier … his gift has the potential to improve the health of countless people, an impressive part of his legacy.”
Born in Vienna in 1935, Weiss emigrated to Australia with his family in 1939 to escape the Nazi threat.