Home » Roberto Cavalli has died, the designer was 83 years old

Roberto Cavalli has died, the designer was 83 years old

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Roberto Cavalli has died, the designer was 83 years old

Roberto Cavalli died today in Florence. He was 83 years old. And he had been ill for a long time. With him, always at his side, is his partner of the last 15 years, Sandra Bergman Nilsonn, with whom he had a child, Giorgio, two years ago. The sixth child after Tommaso and Cristiana, born from his first marriage to Silvanella Giannoni, and Robert, Rachele and Daniele, from his second marriage to Eva Duringer, who was also his right-hand man in the fashion adventure, which began in the Seventies and ended with the sale of his brand in 2015, almost immediately after the last show in September of that year.

Cavalli was born in Florence on 15 November 1940. He was orphaned as a child: his father was killed in a Nazi raid in the square of Castel Nuovo Sabbioni (Arezzo). Those images – the memory of the morning in which they took him away, the desperation and the pain – will mark him forever: up to the age of 20 he stuttered and had many difficulties concentrating, but he managed to graduate from the Academy of Florence, so great was his passion for art first, then photography and finally fashion.

In the Seventies he patented a process of printing on leather and began to create patchworks of materials and colors. In 1970 he presented his first collection at the Paris prêt-à-porter show.

He opened a small shop in Saint-Tropez selling used and reworked jeans in his own style, where Brigitte Bardot and Mick Jagger came in: a success. Lows, highs, more lows followed. He was like that: without a middle ground. Until that decision, with his then wife Eva Duringer, Austrian, whom he met at a Miss Universe final, to get back into the game by investing, like roulette, in image and communication.

Legendary in those years was a “restricted” dinner with some fashion journalist friends, at the Ritz in Paris, in which she asked for an opinion: “What do I do? Do I close everything and enjoy what I have? Or do I invest in my image again and try again? ». A chorus arose. «You’ve done a lot, Roberto: try again».

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It was a success, the real big one: in the second half of the 1990s, it was distributed in 36 countries. Its animal prints, brocades and leather inlays became an immediately recognizable style. The leopard or zebra or tiger print dresses became his signature: chiffon and silk, transparencies and sensuality to the nth degree. He himself, in his last interview, said that it was precisely one of those that was his favourite, the one in life: «A dress with a tiger’s head that I made Cindy Crawford wear when she came down from Trinità di Monti, in Piazza di Spagna, was beautiful and represented me. Because it spoke of nature like the photos of my flowers and my animals. Which many then copied. But for me it was enough to have been the first.” Cindy but also Charlize Theron, Sharon Stone, Naomi Campbell, Jennifer Lopez and all the most beautiful women in the world.

Shows and events, parties and holidays: Roberto Cavalli at the centre, with his fashion and his strength. The large colored glasses and the cigar always in hand. And then the parrots and dogs and all the animals, which he adored. Capable with his big voice and that Tuscan accent of holding court by talking and talking, or of being moved and crying and crying non-stop.

In his autobiography Just me, he never hid his fragility and his strength. The women he loved so much: from his mother, Marcella and his sister Lietta to his first wife Silvanella, married at a very young age, his second wife Eva but also the New Zealander Gloria, lost, searched for, found, lost again and many other girlfriends “all sincerely loved”. And finally Sandra Bergman, 38 years old, the Swedish partner who made him father of little Giorgio last March. For her she overcame prejudices: «The youth of her that surrounds me is wonderful music. We are very united for better or for worse and our love has always won over everything. It made me overcome every illness, every obstacle. She was close to me in the hospital, she didn’t abandon me, even sleeping on the floor”, she told Corriere years ago after her first hospitalization.

His beautiful houses in Florence or the boat and helicopter that changed color were always available for his friends. Yes, color: it has always been her obsession. She said it was because of her uncle, the Macchiaiolo painter, from whom she had inherited the “chromosome” of art. As a boy he painted, but later he discovered photography and never abandoned it. It was from his images that the prints came to life. And woe if there weren’t those animals or details on the fabric: proof after proof, until the canvas came out of his Florentine printing works exactly like the shot of him, caught in who knows what adventure.

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«What I miss is creating something – he said recently. Especially if I look at the newspapers, where there is a bit of today’s fashion. I feel incapable, incapable for everything I don’t do and would like to do. I would like to still be present because it seems to me there is nothing left. I never wanted to leave, but there was nothing else I could do. Even now they stop me, chant my name. There are countries where I can’t walk down the street: a photo, an autograph… and they want to know. They scream. An exaltation. It’s nice. I swear, sometimes I don’t believe it. I ask myself: but why? Are they for me? I stopped forever, yet they recognize me. I tell myself: they are wrong. It’s just that my creative strength is still there, it’s inside me: it’s never enough for me. I continue to express myself through photography: I shoot always, everywhere and I will soon have an exhibition in Dubai. Then I make plans for boats and houses. So alive.” And you will still live, Roberto.

April 12, 2024

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