Roberto Cavalli

Tonie Ong

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Articles on Roberto Cavalli

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Italians certainly have a complex and unique approach to fashion. Firstly, the country’s fashions are quite divided, in that the Northern part adheres to a more refined look while the Southern regions are more celebratory and more exuberant. From the Northern part of Italy, there’s are the likes of Armani and Prada, known for their sophisticated and at times, intellectual design aesthetic. In the Southern area, there’s Dolce & Gabbana and Versace, among others, whose styles are often sexy and controversial. Then there’s Roberto Cavalli, whose approach to style is all his own.

If there’s one thing to always associate the Cavalli style, it’s animal print. From leopard, cheetah, zebra, and tiger—Cavalli has used various animal prints to clad his models with. It’s become definitive of the party girl look of Italy, where youthfulness and playfulness are key elements. Similarly to Gianni Versace, Cavalli has often been unapologetic when it comes to his designs. They may not always be refined, but they’re always fun, glamorous, and fabulous. Unlike Prada, the brand caters to a sector of the fashion world that’s all about exuberance—wearing one’s wealth on one’s back. Although the label and the designer have faced multiple criticism before, they never changed their style for anyone.

Fans from Hollywood, Music Industry, and Fashion World

Like his contemporaries, Cavalli’s designs have attracted numerous high-profile women, from Hollywood celebrities to music artists from around the world. His outrageous, sexy, and elaborate styles have been seen worn on numerous events, from red carpets, formal galas, to the front row at Fashion Week. Additionally, because his clothes are often sex and revealing, many pop stars have commissioned Cavalli to design their tour costumes for them. For her “Mrs. Carter World Show Tour”, Beyoncé had Cavalli design her costumes. Similarly, Miley Cyrus’s ‘The Bangerz World Tour’ and Christina Aguilera’s “Basics 2006/2007” world tour all heavily-featured Cavalli’s work. What’s interesting is the designer was able to inject his signature styles in all of these women’s very different aesthetics.

On the red carpet, actresses Elizabeth Hurley, Christina Applegate, and Halle Berry have all graced Hollywood events wearing Cavalli’s sensual evening gowns or super sexy mini-dresses. Beyond the stage, pop stars continue to wear Cavalli on various red carpets. The likes of Fergie, Taylor Swift, and Jennifer Lopez have all worn Cavalli’s animal-printed ensembles. Even models love wearing Cavalli of the runway, such as Amber Valletta, Alessandra Ambrosio, and Cindy Crawford. Outside Hollywood, Bollywood superstar Aishwarya Rai is a known client of the Italian designer.

Where It All Began

On November 15, 1940, Roberto Cavalli was born into an artistic family. His grandfather was an Impressionist painter while his mother was a seamstress. In 1957, he stopped studying art at the Academy of Art in Florence and began painting on textiles instead, beginning his love for exotic-looking materials. In 1970, he debuted his first ever collection—presenting an array of variously printed textiles cut into body-hugging gowns and dresses. Two years later, in 1972, he officially opened his first boutique in Saint-Tropez. Although his business was prominent among the jet-setter crowd, it wasn’t as commercially successful as other brands at that time because the main look was more avant-garde and minimal. However, things changed by the late 90’s, when Italian exuberance was once again pushed to the forefront of fashion trends.

In 2000, the company launched their subsidiary line, Just Cavalli—presenting a more hip and trendier aesthetic for a younger consumer audience. The line focused on denim looks, which at the time, was a big material among the younger crowd. In 2004, the company co-sponsored that year’s annual MET exhibit, entitled “Wild Fashion: Untamed”, a focus on animal printed creations of which Cavalli was known for. Three years later in 2007, the brand collaborated with high street giant H&M to create a capsule collection at a more affordable price range.

Other Ventures

Apart from the exuberant gowns the label is known for, Cavalli has also released other lines. Since 2002, the brand has ventured into fragrances, starting with the release of their first perfume, Roberto Cavalli Parfum. It’s a blend of scents such as sandalwood, citrus, and rose—a very overpowering, sexy, and confident scent perfect to pair with his fashions. The brand has also since become a leather goods company, trotting out leather bags, purses, wallets, and a variety of other items. Similar to how he is with his clothes, his leather goods are also as exuberant, exotic, and ostentatious. Snakeskin, crocodile, and leopard printed bags have become their signature in this particular category.

Although he has retired and other creative directors have since taken up the helm at his label, Cavalli’s influence in fashion and style is none like any other. His use of animal print and luxurious textiles was unprecedented during his early years. He initiated his women to be fierce, sexy, and confident, while still having a signature all to his own.

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