Looking Back at The Legacy of Roberto Cavalli

11 min read
Roberto Cavalli and his wife Eva Duringert, his business partner. Credit: Spotlight/Launchmetrics

The fashion industry mourns the loss of Roberto Cavalli, the renowned Italian designer who passed away at 83 on Friday. The announcement of his death was made by his company via social media, providing few details about the circumstances.

Born in the artisan city of Florence on 15 November 1940, Cavalli was a pivotal figure in fashion, celebrated for his flamboyant designs and love of exotic flora and animal prints.

From the outset of his career, Cavalli was synonymous with the audacious and the luxurious. His eponymous brand, founded in the early 1970s, became a hallmark of innovation. His pioneering work with printed leather earned him commissions from French houses, including Hermès and Pierre Cardin.

Autumn Winter 2019 Show

During the early years of his career, Cavalli dressed icons like Brigitte Bardot and Sophia Loren, who were customers of his upscale boutique in St. Tropez on the French Riviera, which opened in 1972.

The 1990s were a pivotal decade for Cavalli. He introduced the revolutionary sandblasted jeans look and incorporated Lycra into denim, redefining their fit and enhancing their appeal. This era underscored his reputation for innovation, with supermodels such as Naomi Campbell showcasing his creations on the runway.

By 1999, Cavalli had expanded into the United States, opening his first store. By 2010, he presided over a global lifestyle brand with 60 boutiques around the world.


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Cavalli’s influence extended to pop culture, dressing contemporary figures such as Kim Kardashian, Shakira, Beyoncé, and Jennifer Lopez, The Spice Girls, Taylor Swift, to name but a few. His impact was further solidified by style icons, both real and fictional, notably Carrie Bradshaw from “Sex and the City,” who famously sported his giraffe-spot dresses and peony-pattern jeans.

Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and The City wearing Roberto Cavalli

Peers like Giorgio Armani admired Cavalli as a formidable rival and a true artist. Armani recently remarked on Cavalli’s ability to transform fantasy into wearable art, noting his “wild and wonderful” use of prints and his indomitable Tuscan spirit.

Autumn Winter 2021 Collection.

As we reflect on his storied life and career, Roberto Cavalli’s legacy will continue to influence and inspire. His visionary approach to fashion—a blend of quintessential Italian craftsmanship and daring innovation—leaves an indelible mark on the industry.

Beyoncé wearing Roberto Cavalli during her tour. Photo via Roberto Cavalli.



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Paloma Elesser in a Roberto Cavalli dress inspired in the one the late singer Aaliyah wore at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2000.

Aaliyah at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards.


Jennifer López, Zendaya, Anitta, Gwen Stefani and many more wearing Roberto Cavalli:


Jennifer López wearing Roberto Cavalli. Photo via Roberto Cavalli Instagram

Miley Cyrus wearing Roberto Cavalli.


Christina Aguilera 2003 MTV Video Music Awards.