Rosalie Mera, the fashion visionary who co-founded international retail chain Zara, died on Thursday. She was 69.

Mera’s death was confirmed by Inditex on Friday, but they did not provide any further details beyond revealing that the designer had passed. It has been reported, however, that while on vacation on the island of Menorca, Mera suffered a stroke. She was then brought to a hospital in La Coruna, Spain, where she died on Thursday.

Mera, who had been the richest woman in Spain, founded Zara’s first store in 1975 with her husband Armancio Ortega – the third-richest person in the world, according to Forbes. Their business model entailed offering fashionable clothing at lower prices than its higher end competitors. Amassing a net worth of roughly $6.1 billion, Mera had earned the spot as Forbes’ “wealthiest self-made woman.”

In addition to building a fashion empire, Mera also found time to weigh in on Spanish politics. Mera, a champion of women’s rights in the European country, voiced her opposition to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s attempts to revise Spain’s current abortion laws and make them more prohibitive. Mera also spoke out against austerity measures that would cut back on education and health care programs.


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Mera is survived by her daughter, Sandra, and son, Marcos.

– Chelsea Regan

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