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The fashion designer died at the age of 83

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The fashion designer died at the age of 83

Roberto Cavalli with his then wife Eva Cavalli in New York in 2004. (Image: Getty Images)


The fashion designer from Florence shaped the nineties and noughties with his vision of sexiness. His clothes could roar loudly or purr sensually.

Fashion designer Roberto Cavalli has died at the age of 83 Instagram-Account announced by the fashion label he founded on Friday evening. According to the Italian news agency Ansa, he passed away at his home in Florence after a long illness.

Tributes from around the world soon began circulating on social media: videos of Britney Spears in dazzling stage costumes designed for her by Cavalli. Pictures of “Sex and the City” protagonist Carrie Bradshaw in a floral, wide-cut ruffled dress or in a snake-print bandeau top from the designer. Victoria Beckham and Roberto Cavalli on the red carpet in 2005, he tanned as always, with signature sunglasses and a black suit, she in a dress draped just over her body, blue-green like a bird of paradise.

Roberto Cavalli with Victoria Beckham in Monte Carlo in 2005. (Image: Getty Images)

Cavalli turned imagination into clothing

“I cannot imagine a vision of fashion that is further from mine than that of Roberto Cavalli, and yet I have always had great respect for him,” wrote his 89-year-old compatriot Giorgio Armani on X: “Roberto was a true Artist, wild and wonderful in his use of prints, and able to transform imagination into seductive clothing.”

Roberto Cavalli was born in November 1940 in a small village in Tuscany. His grandfather was an artist and his mother was a seamstress. Cavalli came to fashion while studying at the art academy in Florence, and in 1970 he founded his own eponymous label. He experimented early with printed leather and later with denim, which he manipulated with a sandblaster or added Lycra to make it stretchy and therefore skin-tight.

Roberto Cavalli in 2013 during a store opening in New York. (Image: Getty Images)

Nature as inspiration

Cavalli’s vision of fashion was based on sexiness and clothes that skilfully played around and wooed the female body. In doing so, he particularly influenced the 1990s and noughties, when the death of Gianni Versace and the objectivity of many designers left a vacuum in these topics. While he became a designer favorite of stars like Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé and Lenny Kravitz, his cheaper jeans label Just Cavalli brought his fashion to a wider audience.

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Roberto Cavalli was known for tight-fitting fashion that showed a lot of skin; Look from the Fall 2004 collection. (Image: Getty Images)

If the leopard, tiger and snake prints he loved so much were combined with an unabashed sensuality and “va-va-voom”, they were also a declaration of love to nature: God is the best designer, Cavalli once said in an interview. In addition to vineyards, Ferraris and a solarium, his 13-hectare main residence in Tuscany also had a whole menagerie of parrots and iguanas, a monkey and a tiger.

Again very popular

Cavalli was known for his humor and always emphasized that fashion was not the most important thing in life. Aging doesn’t bother him, he told the Guardian in 2013 and said: “Sometimes I say to people: ‘Oh, I’m old!’, but I’m just hoping for compliments.”

The late fashion designer Roberto Cavalli (pictured in 2003). (Image: Getty Images)

In 2015, Cavalli sold his business to an Italian holding company, and since 2019 it has belonged to a company based in Dubai. The designer Fausto Puglisi is currently responsible for the label’s collections. “It is the greatest honor of my career to work under your legacy and create for the brand you founded with so much vision and style,” he addressed the late designer on Instagram.

Only recently did vintage pieces by Roberto Cavalli become extremely popular again, with young stars like Zendaya also wearing his clothes from past collections. And in the wake of the current animal print revival, it is his designs that are considered the ultimate role models.

Actress Zendaya in a Roberto Cavalli dress from 2000. (Image: Getty Images)

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