Roberto Cavalli

Roberto Cavalli has always sought to bring out in his work an impression of the world around him, to imprint upon the wearer the strange beauty of nature. He was born in 1940 in Florence, and was no doubt inspired by his grandfather, who was an Impressionist painter. Cavalli originally dreamed of being an artist himself, but after enrolling in the local Art Institute and specializing in textiles, he combined talents learned from his seamstress mother and the subjects of impressionist art to make a series of flower prints on knits which first caught the attention of Italian hosiery factories. His artwork found its way onto bodies rather than canvasses. Cavalli began to experiment along this vein in the 1970s, when he patented a printing procedure on leather. He created dyed leather evening gowns using glove skin from a French tannery. He worked in patchworks, printed denim, brocade, and wild prints. In his 30s, he created his first namesake collection for a salon in Paris, which he brought to runways in Florence and later Milan. He started working with his wife (now married 40 years), Eva, who won the Miss Universe Pageant in 1977; they design the collections together. His sandblasted jeans, created in 1988, and his stretch jeans helped catapult him into success in the 90s. He rejected minimalism and animal print became his signature; he says: “I like everything that is of nature. I started to appreciate that even fish have a fantastic colored ‘dress’, so does the snake, and the tiger. I started to understand that God is really the best designer, so I started to copy God.” Cavalli felt he could create no better prints than those found in the natural world, championing his rock n roll version of the impressionist sensibility. He travelled around the world, photographing animals in Africa and flowers in botanical gardens, which found their way onto his clothes. Cavalli’s safari world grew to encompass entire spaces and events. He believed in the convergence of fashion, design, and food, and dreamt up Cavalli cafes and Cavalli clubs. He created his own vodka brand, in a snake bottle, and in 2008 designed a series of limited edition animal print coke bottles. In 2005, he designed the bunny costumes for Playboy’s first re-design in 25 years. Cavalli enthusiasm for the untamed introduced animal print into the world of glamour – he made leopard print luxury. Cavalli has always been interested in classical femininity, and emphasizing the female form, while also incorporating elements of punk rock style – his work is both sensual and rebellious for its time. Today, Cavalli’s maximalism manifests itself in his home as well – he lives surrounded by bird cages housing exotic birds, crystal balls, a bedazzled motorcycle, classical paintings, and a tanning machine. He’s now 80, and like many designer labels, the waning success of his brand came to a head in 2019 when it was forced to file for bankruptcy. The brand was bought later that year, but the Roberto Cavalli name will always be associated with the passionate man himself.

Roberto Cavalli

08-15-21

Roberto Cavalli has always sought to bring out in his work an impression of the world around him, to imprint upon the wearer the strange beauty of nature. He was born in 1940 in Florence, and was no doubt inspired by his grandfather, who was an Impressionist painter. Cavalli originally dreamed of being an artist himself, but after enrolling in the local Art Institute and specializing in textiles, he combined talents learned from his seamstress mother and the subjects of impressionist art to make a series of flower prints on knits which first caught the attention of Italian hosiery factories. His artwork found its way onto bodies rather than canvasses. Cavalli began to experiment along this vein in the 1970s, when he patented a printing procedure on leather. He created dyed leather evening gowns using glove skin from a French tannery. He worked in patchworks, printed denim, brocade, and wild prints. In his 30s, he created his first namesake collection for a salon in Paris, which he brought to runways in Florence and later Milan. He started working with his wife (now married 40 years), Eva, who won the Miss Universe Pageant in 1977; they design the collections together. His sandblasted jeans, created in 1988, and his stretch jeans helped catapult him into success in the 90s. He rejected minimalism and animal print became his signature; he says: “I like everything that is of nature. I started to appreciate that even fish have a fantastic colored ‘dress’, so does the snake, and the tiger. I started to understand that God is really the best designer, so I started to copy God.” Cavalli felt he could create no better prints than those found in the natural world, championing his rock n roll version of the impressionist sensibility. He travelled around the world, photographing animals in Africa and flowers in botanical gardens, which found their way onto his clothes. Cavalli’s safari world grew to encompass entire spaces and events. He believed in the convergence of fashion, design, and food, and dreamt up Cavalli cafes and Cavalli clubs. He created his own vodka brand, in a snake bottle, and in 2008 designed a series of limited edition animal print coke bottles. In 2005, he designed the bunny costumes for Playboy’s first re-design in 25 years. Cavalli enthusiasm for the untamed introduced animal print into the world of glamour – he made leopard print luxury. Cavalli has always been interested in classical femininity, and emphasizing the female form, while also incorporating elements of punk rock style – his work is both sensual and rebellious for its time. Today, Cavalli’s maximalism manifests itself in his home as well – he lives surrounded by bird cages housing exotic birds, crystal balls, a bedazzled motorcycle, classical paintings, and a tanning machine. He’s now 80, and like many designer labels, the waning success of his brand came to a head in 2019 when it was forced to file for bankruptcy. The brand was bought later that year, but the Roberto Cavalli name will always be associated with the passionate man himself.

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