HomeFashionFashion Industry Reacts to Roberto Cavalli’s Death

Fashion Industry Reacts to Roberto Cavalli’s Death


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MILAN — The news of Roberto Cavalli’s death at age 83 on Friday led to fond memories of the designer, his passion for the arts and fashion and his influence on Made in Italy.

“I cannot imagine a vision of fashion more distant from mine than that of Roberto Cavalli, yet I have always had enormous respect for him: Roberto was a true artist, wild and wonderful in his use of prints, capable of transforming fantasy into seductive clothes. I have learnt with great sadness of his passing: his Tuscan verve will be greatly missed,” said Giorgio Armani. 

Renzo Rosso, founder of OTB, which for years held the license for the Just Cavalli line, said the designer “has been an icon of Made in Italy in the world, his unmistakable style influenced entire generations of designers.”

Rosso, whose group controls brands ranging from Diesel to Maison Margiela, Marni and Jil Sander, was said to be aiming to buy the Roberto Cavalli brand in 2018. “I am deeply saddened by his death and I remember with a lot of affection the moments that we spent together. He was a brave artist, an extraordinary talent that never feared to dare and was always committed to exalt the excellence of Italy. His passing is a great loss for the fashion community and for Italy.”

“Roberto Cavalli’s passing marks the departure of a man who contributed in a unique way to fashion and Made in Italy, who championed an inimitable vision made of prints, colors and seductive femininity,” said designer Alberta Ferretti. “Cavalli wrote a very important chapter of Italian fashion, set to continue inspiring future generations,” she noted.

Florentine fashion house Ferragamo and its founding family also acknowledged the work and influence of the designer. “We have always appreciated his creativity and his innovative ideas, like him being the first one to print on leather, for example,” said Giovanna Gentile Ferragamo, daughter of the brand’s founder and sister of chairman Leonardo Ferragamo. “The use of soft and fluid fabrics marked his work, highlighting the trait that enhanced women’s femininity, and this also contributed to his success and made him famous worldwide,” she added.

“There is no one like Roberto. He was a true ‘bon vivant’ and his brand reflected this,” said Peter Dundas, who worked with Cavalli and his former wife Eva as head designer from 2002 to 2005, before returning to the brand and succeeding the founder in 2015 as Cavalli gradually eased out of fashion. Dundas was creative director of the brand until 2017.

“Arriving in the world of Cavalli was for me like a kid entering a candy store. Each design and every collection was a celebration. A celebration of femininity (or masculinity), a celebration of color, of pattern, of embroidery. Always a celebration of beauty and of sexuality,” said Dundas. “It was the best finishing school a kid like me could hope for and I am so grateful for the opportunities Roberto gave me to play, have fun with fashion and [for] giving me the freedom to find myself as a designer.

“When years later he asked me to return as the house’s creative director, it felt like the ultimate gift from one of the most visually generous designers the fashion world has known and he will always have a special place in my heart,” said Dundas.

“Today more than ever if I think about Roberto, I realize how much he was an artist with prints and colors,” said designer Lorenzo Serafini, who worked alongside the late Cavalli for 10 years. “I can see him in front of the print desks in Osmannoro [the Roberto Cavalli brand’s headquarters in Tuscany], reimagining the traditional approach to printing via the number of techniques he invented,” he added.

“His career was truly marked by a deep vision and his great sensibility toward prints and colors. The 10 years I spent by his side were incredible and unforgettable. By Roberto’s side everything was possible, he would push you to challenge the limits of fantasy and creativity, there were no boundaries one could not overcome through imagination. I owe Roberto a lot and won’t stop to thank him for all he taught me,” Serafini offered.

Former Bulgari and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton executive Francesco Trapani, who spearheaded the acquisition of the Roberto Cavalli company in 2015 when he was chairman of Clessidra, said Cavalli “was a revolutionary designer,” which led to his gaining “great international success.”

The model Mariacarla Boscono shared a picture of the designer, saying “Ciao Roberto” on her Instagram Stories.

Mariacarla Boscono’s story on Instagram.

“His passing hits hard for everything he stood for, for Florence as a true Florentine and for Italian and international fashion. He excelled at everything he did…he worked with prints in such a unique way,” said Raffaello Napoleone, chief executive officer of Pitti Immagine. “They were a great passion of his, he would sketch those prints. He was also such an eclectic character…from flying helicopters, [breeding] racehorses. He was passionate about art and a generous man. He truly meant a lot for Italian fashion. When someone dies people usually use superlatives, but I like to remember him for what he did, always supported by Eva.”

“Ciao to my old friend…I will miss you!” wrote Laudomia Pucci in a post on her Instagram account.

Laudomia Pucci’s Instagram post.

Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah, who founded the Kuwait retail emporium Villa Moda that carried Cavalli’s collections, said “my most treasured memories of Florence are the fabulous dinners hosted by Roberto at his house with his wonderful wife, Eva.

“I’ll never forget the setting, the food, the atmosphere and above all Roberto’s amazing sense of humor, and how he teased Eva with his old stories of flirting with girls. May his soul rest in peace and he will always be remembered and in our hearts and prayers,” Al-Sabah said.

Dr. Andrew Burnstine, former executive vice president of Martha, Inc., and the grandson of Martha  Phillips, said, “Robert Cavalli once said, “I would like the people who buy my clothes to understand that for me, it’s one small piece of art.”

“And Martha Phillips understood this. When she and Lynn [Manulis, her daughter and president and chief executive officer of Martha, Inc.], went to Florence in the early 1980s and saw Roberto’s whimsical prints, they thought they were each a small piece of art. Each item was so masterly done, representing a particular animal and theme. Martha referred to them as a small menagerie   – and knew they would be a hit when she sold them in Bal Harbour and Palm Beach. She was correct (as usual). She had ordered two dozen prints, and they sold out in two days! Many more reorders would follow,” said Burnstine.  

Cavalli had turned what was once the “animal print fad” into a fashion classic, he said.  Burnstine recalled Cavalli saying, “I love nature. Animals have  the best dresses. God made them so well-dressed. Women like these designs, they feel natural in them.” 

The photographer Mert Alas of the fashion photography duo Mert and Marcus shared an advertising campaign from 2004 on his Instagram account paying homage to Cavalli.

Mert Alas’ Instagram post in tribute to Roberto Cavalli.

Spanish-born model and actor Jon Kortajarena posted on his Instagram Stories a photo of himself and the designer.

Jon Kortajarena's story on his Instagram

Jon Kortajarena’s story on Instagram.

The entrepreneur Federico Marchetti on his Stories wrote, “Roberto was always kind and generous soul. Rest in peace”

Federico Marchetti story on his Instagram

Federico Marchetti’s story on his Instagram

Art collector James Goldstein shared a photo with Cavalli on his Instagram with the caption : “Roberto Cavalli was an amazing designer! I proudly wore his clothes for many years! His fashion shows were always my favorites!”

James Goldstein post on his Instagram

James Goldstein post on his Instagram

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