Roberto Cavalli, visionary of flamboyant fashion, dies aged 83

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13th April 2024 – (Florence) Roberto Cavalli, the audacious Italian fashion designer renowned for his vibrant animal prints and luxury leather craftsmanship, has passed away at the age of 83. His death occurred at his home in Florence, Italy, after an unspecified illness, as confirmed by his fashion house. Italian news agency ANSA also reported that the designer died after a prolonged illness in the city where he was both born and found his fame.

Cavalli’s fashion house paid tribute to him on Instagram, stating: “A life lived with love. It is with great sadness that today we say our final goodbyes to our founder Roberto Cavalli. From humble beginnings in Florence, Roberto succeeded in becoming a globally recognized name loved and respected by all. 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.”

Emerging in the flamboyant world of 1970s fashion, Cavalli quickly became a favourite among the international jet set, dressing icons such as Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot in his daring designs. His legacy continued to influence the fashion choices of newer generations of stars, including Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez, who were often spotted in his striking creations.

Cavalli’s life was as colourful as his fashion. Known for his love of fast cars, particularly Ferraris, and his penchant for smoking fat cigars, he exuded a persona that matched his bold design ethos. His sartorial signature — tailored shirts daringly unbuttoned to reveal a tanned chest — became synonymous with his brand’s decadent aesthetic.

His personal life was equally glamorous. Cavalli was married to a former Miss Universe runner-up, owned a distinctive purple helicopter, and a lush vineyard in Tuscany. He moved in circles that included Hollywood’s elite, many of whom were on a first-name basis with him.

Born on November 15, 1940, in Florence, the heart of Italy’s leather crafting industry, Cavalli was a pioneer in the use of printed leather and was instrumental in popularising sand-blasted jeans, a trend that gained massive popularity in the late 20th century. His innovative approach often saw him pushing the boundaries of traditional fashion, blending high glamour with rock and roll chic.

In 2005, Cavalli was commissioned to revamp the iconic Playboy Bunnies’ uniforms. True to his reputation, he infused the new designs with his hallmark animal prints, including a notable leopard print version that made headlines.