Roberto Cavalli

Born: Florence, Italy, 1940

Designer Biography Roberto Cavalli

Credits & copyrights: Courtesy of Roberto Cavalli

Born into an artistic Italian family, Roberto Cavalli started an interest in art from his grandfather, Giuseppe Rossi, a member of the Macchiailo Movement. Following the family tradition, Cavalli enrolled at the Institute of Art in Florence at 17 and started to specialize in textile applications.

Concentrating on textile print, Cavalli developed a series of flower prints on knit, which attracted attention from Italian hosiery factories.

During the early seventies, Cavalli invented a printing procedure on leather and started creating patchworks of different materials. Cavalli debuted these techniques in Paris. Impressed with his revolutionary procedure, fashion houses including Hermes and Pierre Cardin started commissioning Cavalli.

Cavalli started to develop and design his own collection and at the age of 30, presented his work at the Salon for Pret-a-Porter in Paris. Following Paris he showed his collection at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. Two years later in 1972, he opened his first boutique in Saint Tropez attracting a crowd of beautiful people, including the young Brigitte Bardot.

In 1980, Cavalli married his lifelong companion, Eva Duringer.

Cavalli designed the first sand blasted jeans in 1994. The same year he opened more boutiques in Saint Barth, the French Caribbean and Venice.

In 1988, Cavalli started the Just Cavalli line, a more accessible line for a wider audience.

In 2002, Cavalli opened a café store in Florence, decorated with his signature animal prints. This was followed by the Just Cavalli café in Milan. In 2007, Cavalli designed the costumes for the Spice Girls’ World Tour. The same year he designed a one time collection for H&M.

Associated with the world’s greatest stars, celebrities’ endorsing the brand and the designer, include Jennifer Lopez, Lenny Kravitz, Christina Aguilera, Kate Moss and Gisele Bundchen. The company itself now includes the lines Roberto Cavalli, Just Cavalli, Roberto Cavalli Junior and Class Roberto Cavalli. The brand also offers Caffe Giacosa which sells vodka, chocolate and wine and well as the Cavalli Club – a restaurant and bar.

Known for his raunchy rock ‘n’ roll glamour, Roberto Cavalli’s style is extravagant, sexy, erotic and lavish. He’s associated with leopard skin prints, plunging necklines and expensive fabrics.

On June 18, 2013, Roberto Cavalli received an Honorary Master Diploma in Fashion Management from Domus Academy in Milan. He was awarded this recognition during a ceremony, after which he delivered a lectio magistralis.

Roberto Cavalli has six children: Tommaso and Christiana from his first marriage, and Robert, Sara, and Daniele from his second marriage. He divorced his second wife Eva in 2010. Since 2014, he has been in a relationship with model Sandra Nilsson, who is 45 years younger than him. At the age of 82, on March 8, 2023, it was announced that Cavalli became a father for the sixth time. His child, named Giorgio, was born from his relationship with Sandra Nilsson and is a tribute to Cavalli’s father who tragically lost his life in the Cavriglia massacre during World War II.

Regarding his fashion brand, in January 2014, Cavalli returned to the role of men’s creative director, replacing his son Daniele Cavalli. He appointed Martyn Bal as his right-hand man for the 2014 fall collection. However, there were changes in the company’s leadership, with CEO Gianluca Brozzetti and COO Carlo Di Biagio leaving the fashion brand on January 24, 2014.

In May 2014, Cavalli explored the possibility of selling a stake in his fashion brand to Investcorp, an investment firm in the Persian Gulf.

In March 2019, Roberto Cavalli faced financial difficulties and decided to close its US stores, planning to seek an agreement with creditors to stay afloat while searching for an investor. The company’s US operation, Art Fashion Corp., filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, leading to the closure of all stores and termination of 93 US employees. In 2019, DAMAC Properties’s Hussain Sajwani completed the acquisition of the Italian fashion group Roberto Cavalli.

Roberto Cavalli BIography

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Written by Saxony Dudbridge

Saxony Dudbridge was one of the first contributors to the Catwalk Yourself project, Saxony studies International Fashion Marketing and she is responsible for our great History and Designers Biographies sections.

4 thoughts on “Roberto Cavalli

  1. A great summary of one of the world’s known fashion designers. To me, Roberto Cavalli is my most admired entrepreneur and fashion designer. Thank you so much for writing a detailed post about him.

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