Designer of the Week 3: Roberto Cavalli

Roberto Cavalli, ‘The King of Animalier’

  • Cavalli was born into an artistic Italian family and followed in their footsteps by attending the Institute of Art in Florence. This is where he specialised in Printed Textile Design produced unique floral knits.
  • Working from his garage, Cavalli bought unsold t-shirts and blouses from factories then he would upcycle them by adding pattern and colour to the sleeves, collar or the back. He continued to develop his dyeing and printing techniques until he had gathered attention and enough so that he could open a small factory in 1960.
  • In 1970, whilst living in Paris, Cavalli patented his unique printing technique onto leather, this then led to Hermes and Pierre Cardin commissioning him.
  • Cavalli is known for his signature animal print on everything, he once stated, "It's not really that I love to use animal print, I like everything that is of nature," "I started to appreciate that even fish have a fantastic coloured 'dress', so does the snake, and the tiger. I started to understand that God is really the best designer, so I started to copy God."
  • Cavalli’s first shop in St Tropez opened in 1972, there was sand on the floor, animal print everywhere and Rock & Roll playing loudly, it was massive hit with the fashion elite.
  • The 1990’s became an exciting time for the brand, moving away from their leather printing techniques, they started to artistically print on denim, leading to the creation of their new brand, ‘Just Cavalli’ specialising in denim. 
  • By 1994, Cavalli had developed his brand into producing beachwear, underwear, perfumes, menswear, childrenswear and accessories, being sold in more than 45 countries worldwide.

  • Cavalli did not only have a love for fashion but also for food and parties, so in 2002 he opened the Cavalli Café in Florence and later a Club in Florence and Restaurant in Milan, where animal print adorns all the walls and loud music plays, all of which you can still visit today.
  • In 2005, for their first re-design ideas in 25 years, Playboy asked Cavalli to design the bunnies outfits in celebration. As Playboy CEO Hugh Hefner stated, "(Roberto) too embraces the good life, inspires an aspirational lifestyle for a jet-set crowd and of course celebrates beautiful women".
  • In 2007, Cavalli had acquired many admirers in the music industry and designed the outfits for the music tours of the Spice Girls, Jennifer Lopez and Christina Aguilera.