The name Roberto Cavalli is synonymous with glamour and eccentricity. Italian fashion designer Cavalli’s creations are highly recognizable for the mixture of different materials they use and the frequent use of animal patterns and patchwork.
Originally from Florence, Roberto grew up in a stimulating environment: his grandfather, Giuseppe Rossi, was a famous Italian Impressionist painter, part of the Macchiaioli Movement. The bohemian environment stimulated Cavalli and played a vital role in the development of his artistic taste. At just 21, after attending the Florence Academy of Fine Arts, he opened his first business and started producing – and coloring – his own outfits.
An unintended event gave rise to one of Cavalli’s most distinctive design ideas. He drew something by mistake on a piece of leather and this helped spark the idea for his innovative leather printing technique.
Despite the lack of enthusiasm from the Italian public at the main fashion shows, in the early 70’s Cavalli achieved his first successes abroad, especially in France, boosted by Brigitte Bardot and Sophia Loren appearing in St. Tropez wearing Cavalli dresses.
1977 marked an important turning point in Roberto Cavalli’s personal and professional life. Asked to be part of the jury panel of the Miss Universe contest, Cavalli met the Austrian Eva Düringer, one of the beauties vying for the crown, who went on to become his wife and business partner.
The re-launch of the brand in 1994 established Roberto Cavalli as one of Italy’s most famous and acclaimed fashion designers. This comeback was full of fresh ideas, including opening new boutiques and launching new lines, including “Freedom”, the casual line which produced everything from accessories (handbags, bags, jeans) and lingerie to men’s prêt-a-porter. The highlight of Roberto Cavalli’s return was the launch of Just Cavalli, the young fashion line, featuring leather clothes and patterned fabrics.
Cavalli has been a pioneer in the mixing of materials such as leather, denim and feathers, making his creations highly distinctive. No wonder then that in an interview with the magazine Time ‘n Style, Cavalli declared: “Anyone is capable of doing minimalism. I won’t because it’s horrible”.
The opening in 1999 of his first store in New York, Madison Avenue, marked the beginning of Cavalli’s success across the ocean. As a result, in 2002 the prestigious global organization Fashion Group International voted Cavalli Designer of the Year.
Hi career hasn’t been free from controversy, however. In 2004 the Hindu community was upset by an underwear line designed for Harrods, which featured the figure of a Hindu goddess.
Cavalli decided to expand into the restaurant and leisure industry, trading on his well established name in the fashion world. The same unconventional and extravagant style distinguishes the Just Cavalli Caffé in Florence and Just Cavalli Club and Just Cavalli Restaurant in Milan.
His particular focus on younger clients led him not only to create new and more youthful lines, but also to collaboration with world renowned fashion brands. In 2007 he created a men’s and women’s collection for the Swedish brand H&M. Called “Roberto Cavalli at H&M” it combined the style and quality of Cavalli with the user friendliness of the Swedish store.
The glamour and eccentricity of Roberto Cavalli’s creations has endeared him to rock stars like Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, Shakira, Jon Bon Jovi and Lenny Kravitz who are often seen in his creations.
Cavalli is such an integral part of his brand that when he tried to sell it in 2008 nobody dared to take it over, so he continued managing it himself. However the following year saw him hand over the reins to Gianluca Brozzetti as CEO and Carlo Di Biagio as COO. Leaving the family-business-run model, the company could now build on its success. It is now estimated to be worth around 170 million euros.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the fashion house in 2010, Cavalli launched a special collection of clothes and accessories. The new line was promoted with an advertising campaign featuring supermodel Gisele Bundchen. The fashion group also produced a book of photographs in which some of the world’s most beautiful women are shown wearing Cavalli.
And it is this commitment to continuously evolving style while maintaining the excitement, originality and luxurious femininity which has ensured Roberto Cavalli his place in the Fashion Hall of Fame.
Roberto Cavalli S.P.A.Via Del Cantone, 29 Osmannoro
50019 Sesto Fiorentino (Firenze), Italy
Tel: [+39] 055 308604
Web: Roberto Cavalli Fashion House