The story of Roberto Cavalli

Cavalli is not a usual fashion designer. His great contribution in the fashion industry made his Cavalli Clothes and accessories, one of the most famous Brands, all over the world.

Roberto Cavalli did not grow surrounded  by fashion, but in his home he found art, colours and a sense of creativity. He was born in Florence on November 15, 1940, in a family already using his short trade tools: paintbrushes and pallets.

His grandfather was Giuseppe Rossi – a prominent exponent of Macchiailo’s iconographic trend, which was founded in Florence in the mid-19th century and whose works were already painted in the monumental rooms of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

His father died when he was only four years old and then he found the power and guidance of his mother Marcella, who played a fundamental role in Roberto’s decision to study Fine Arts.

Cavalli’s Dream

Once Roberto finished his studies at the Florence School of Fine Arts, he knew his future would go far beyond the opportunities offered by formal training. His way to success was elsewhere: in the world of imagination, invention, creativity.

Roberto Cavalli painted, but did not spend much time in front of his canvas. Instead he painted a lot through his work. Roberto often traveled to Como, home of the most famous Italian silk makers.

Cavalli’s Contribution

Through the observation of the working looms – and of the silk printed there – he made an innovative printing technique that allowed him to print his designs in whole garments, which were interrupted only by ornaments and seams. For the silk industry, his work was truly innovative.

Cavalli began his career in 1965 when he was 21 years old, painting t-shirts with a girl he knew from the art school. Roberto soon found himself handling a studio with sixteen people and managing all the work for which he was assigned. This was the beginning of Stampa Cavalli (Cavalli Printing), almost a trademark, which is recognizable beyond all counterfeit attempts. However, the world of fashion saw him and soon gave him the opportunity he needed to be part of the greatest Fashion eshop.

Cavalli’s Work

It was in 1969. Florence hosted a large world shoe exhibition. Roberto met with Mario Valentino, a name that made history in the Italian fashion world and then appreciated generally for his leather clothes. The two went to the exhibition with the idea of ​​using the same technique of printing on the leather that has already been used in silk. In a very short period of time, the skin prints were signed by Mario Valentino, Pierre Cardin and Hermès, and then Cavalli thought “why could not they have the label named Roberto Cavalli?”

February 1970 Paris, Salon du Prêt-à-Porter. A new brand has stood out among others on the international fashion scene: Roberto Cavalli. General surprise and immediate success followed when the evening dresses and swim costumes made of printed leather appeared on the catwalk. But for Roberto that was not enough. He returned to Florence and decided to transfer his creativity to an unexpected element and bring it to the fore: jeans.

In 1972, in the Sala Bianca (White Room) of Pitti Palace in Florence, patchwork trousers, mini dresses, leather long jackets and jeans became the centerpiece of the famous catwalk. Once again, the unusual representation was surprising and was an instant success. Comments from industry’s trusted people became a reputation among the general public and Roberto Cavalli quickly became the most popular brand in both traditional European and emerging US markets.


In 1977 Roberto was invited to be one of the judges in the Miss Universe contest. There he met one of the contestants, Eva Düringer, who represented Austria and won second place, who he married in 1980 and is the mother of three of his five children.

1994 came quickly. From the point of view of fashion, the 80s unfold under the lighting of New Baroque and Maximalism: a weak hedonism was condemned to end with the re-polishing of Minimalism. This was not an exciting time for Roberto, who devoted himself to his own business as well as to the breeding of horses.

Minimalist piracy was doomed to end and the Cavalli brand seemed destined to become the protagonist of the new fashion trend.

Then came the time of the first official fashion shows at Milano Collezioni, where the appearance of new jeans created using a special ageing technique with sand blasting opened the way for what will become glamorous by Roberto Cavalli.

The beginning of a new Trend

His measured pieces marked the beginning of a new femininity, which strengthened women with nice curves. The new trend has been born. However, the term “trend” soon became too limited to describe his success.

Roberto Cavalli became a real fashion star of the 1990s, a phenomenon that – according to informed observers – was intended to last for a long time as it was built on the lifestyle pillars rather than the slopes of the passes. Imagination and creativity have merged with research and technology.

Standard Cavalli prints have become more and more modern. Even the classic painter turned into a true distinctive mark that was constantly re-created through new modern forms. As far as jeans are concerned, Cavalli introduced yet another revolution: the introduction of the Lycra fibre, which made them elastic.

Cavalli is considered to be the designer of the star system. His slogan is that “a dress can change your life,” and the many celebrities and friends around the world who identify with its versatile style can confirm it.

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