Roberto Cavalli, the king of animal prints

Roberto Cavalli was born in Florence in 1940 from a family of artists: the works of his grandfather, Giuseppe Rossi, from the group of Macchiaioli in the Florence of 1800, are nowadays on display at the Uffizi.

Cavalli attended the Florence art Institute, being particularly fascinated by the use of paintings in the textile field: for his whole career, he will transfer the creativity, proper to the painting, to fashion, developing countless printing methods on different materials and with avant-guard methodologies.


During the 1960s, Roberto Cavalli invented in Paris a revolutionary technique for printing on leather, drawing the attention of the major fashion houses, such as Hermès and Pierre Cardin. The first collection with his name on it debuted in 1970 at the Salon du Prêt-à-Porter in Paris; his creations are the presented a Palazzo Pitti, in Florence, and they immediately stand out for their degree of innovation. The highlight is the creation of patchworks with different material, like leather and denim. The latter is treated specifically to obtain a live-in effect, or embellished with golden seams and applications: an absolute novelty introduced by the fashion house, that makes, for the first time, a luxury item out of a pair of jeans.

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In 1972 the brand opens its first boutique in Saint-Tropez, spreading then in over 36 countries all over the world. Starting from the 1990s, Cavalli moves the main office of his company to Milan, where, in 1994, during the Fashion Week, he proposed on the catwalk what will become the distinctive mark of his brand: animalier prints. The woman pictured by Roberto Cavalli is bold, not afraid to dare, show of sensual outfits and dresses rich in textures: the motifs are inspired by the wilderness, in an overwhelming mix of leopard, zebra, phyton and tiger prints.

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The Just Cavalli line, for younger people, was born in 1998, and includes ready-to-wear and accessories, but also parfums, lingerie, watches and sunglasses. Roberto Cavalli moves then to the nightlife and catering, opening his first boutique-café in Florence in 2012 and the Jut Cavalli Café night clubs in Milan and Porto Cervo. 

During the first decade of 2000 the brand is one of the most desired by the stars, with the greatest supermodels on it catwalks, including Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell and Laetitia Casta. At the 2012 Salone del Mobile, Cavalli presented the Cavalli Home collection, which extended the lifestyle and opulent style of the fashion designer also to interion design. 

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In 2013 Roberto Cavalli has received a honorary degree in Fashion Management from the Milan Domus Academy and the next year he decided sell his fashion house, which has been acquired for the 90% by Claudio Sposito’s Clessidra SGR fund. The creative direction passed to Peter Dundas until 2017, when he was replaced by Paul Surridge. Thanks to Peter Dundas, the brand became the protagonist of the American red carpet, in particular with a see-through dress created for Kim Kardashian for the 2015 Met Gala.

Another change of ownership takes place in 2019: the company is sold to Vision Investments, based in Dubai, where the brand is currently expanding, amplified by the creation of a series of luxurious Cavalli Hotels. The creative direction is now centred in Fausto Puglisi a designer who embodies perfectly the Cavalli spirit: his first collection in May 2021 brought on the catwalk seductive total black dresses enriched with gold and animalier details, with the same bold aesthetic that has always distinguished the Cavalli Maison. 

Cover Image: truefashionistas

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