Monday, June 17, 2024

Roberto Cavalli has passed away at 83

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Italian fashion designer Roberto Cavalli has died at the age of 83. He is survived by his six children. No specific details were provided by the company, but his team posted the news to the brand’s official Instagram account this afternoon. Part of the message read: “Naturally talented and creative, Roberto believed that everyone can discover and nurture the artist within themselves. Roberto Cavalli’s legacy will live on via his creativity, his love of nature and via his family who he cherished.”

Indeed, Cavalli’s creativity underscored his outsize vision within the fashion space. His designs celebrated an unapologetically bold, fierce attitude toward dressing and a sartorial point of view anchored in sensuality. After studying at the Art Institute of Florence, Cavalli began his career in the 1970s by creating a leather and denim printing technique that rendered a patchworklike fabric for a small ready-to-wear line sold in a boutique in St.-Tropez. He amassed a glamorous fan base in Europe, then spent the 1990s making a global name for himself with high-end denim, namely his signature sandblasted pieces and his stretch denim.

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Early adopters of the Cavalli look, known for its wild animal prints, bohemian silhouettes, and Technicolor hues, included Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, and Jennifer Lopez. Cavalli’s celebrity following was loyal, as was his customer base, which included both cool girls and glamorous society ladies who aspired to add flash to their fashion repertoire. As Cavalli used to say often, “Excess is success.”

Cavalli also created a secondary line, Just Cavalli, and dipped his gilded toes into the world of hospitality with nightclubs and cafés across America, Europe, and the Middle East. He was as much an astute businessman as he was a creative force, someone who succeeded in creating an entire world around his brand. It’s a world that has come spinning back into the zeitgeist as of late, particularly with the fashion obsessives of Gen Z, who are buying up vintage Cavalli and Just Cavalli by the tons — things like the 1990s and 2000-era printed jeans, cutout dresses, and crop tops.

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But as monumental and glitzy as his label became over time, Cavalli never lost sight of his enthusiasm for the art of fashion. As he told Harper’s Bazaar in 2013, “Everything that is design, everything that is part of my collections, comes from my heart, my mind, my stomach.” He went on to emphasise that “femininity is my biggest source of inspiration.” Indeed, the prolific designer opened up a world of possibilities for women who want to embrace their sensuality, who want to wear clothes that make a statement — but, more importantly, who want to dress in a way that makes them feel as great as they look. That’s Cavalli’s most important legacy.

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