Roberto Cavalli Has Died at 83

Breaking news today. Roberto Cavalli (November 15, 1940 – April 12, 2024) has died at age 83. The «King of Bling», who has been synonymous with vibrant animal prints and sand-blasted denim, has died in his hometown Florence.

«Surround yourself with love, because love will be the beacon of your life.» – Roberto Cavalli

Roberto Cavalli launched his eponymous label in 1970 after his textile print studies and presented his first prêt-à-porter collection at age 30. He rose to fame extremely fast thanks to a revolutionary printing procedure on leather that he patented. He went on to open his first boutique in Saint-Tropez in 1972, and was soon after invited to present at the Sala Bianca in Florence.

With Roberto Cavalli in 2011.

Throughout his career, Roberto Cavalli created very sexy clothes in bright and bold colors. Animal prints were in his DNA as well as a very innovative approach to fabrics. He went on to introduce additional lines, including RC Menswear, Just Cavalli, which was marketed to a younger consumer, and a children’s collection. The brand also expanded into hospitality, opening its Cavalli Café in Florence in 2002, a concept it eventually brought to other cities, including Milan, Ibiza and Miami.

According to BoF, his company has faced a series of challenges in the last decade: In 2014, it began posting annual losses. In 2015, the Cavalli family sold 90 percent of the business to private equity firm Clessidra Capital Partners. In 2019, it closed its US stores and laid off 93 employees. It filed for bankruptcy in Italy in March 2019. The company went on to be acquired by Dubai-based real estate devloper Vision Investment Co. LLC later that same year.

With Fausto Puglisi in Café Cavalli in Milano in 2012.

The Cavalli collections are currently designed by Fausto Puglisi.

At the home of Roberto Cavalli were lots of animals.

Personally speaking, I met Roberto on several occasions and was invited to his house several times in Florence. He loved animals and was a very kind man who loved to host. RIP, Roberto, you will be missed and I feel privileged to have so many beautiful outfits from you in my closet.

In Roberto’s living room in his house in Florence.

If you are interested, I invite you to read an interview with him from 2011 here.

LoL, Sandra

Photos: © Sandra Bauknecht and Courtesy of Roberto Cavalli
DISCLOSURE: We may earn commission from links on this page, but I only recommend products I love. Promise.

Meet the King of Bling: Roberto Cavalli

The King of Bling

Roberto Cavalli, the “King of Bling” and the “Godfather of the Animal Prints” (as he quoted himself), will be soon coming to Switzerland for the Fashion Days Zurich. He will attend not only to present his latest relaunched Just Cavalli S/S 2012 collection, but also as a guest judge for the 8th annabelle award which will take place on November 10th, 2011. The lucky winner will receive a one year internship with the Florence based house.

Wild animal prints, floral embellishments and leather patches? It is surely no other than Roberto Cavalli.
His flamboyant iconic mix is seen everywhere on the red carpet and not only on celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Madonna and Lenny Kravitz. Last year, he celebrated his fashion house’s 40th anniversary. During Milan Fashion Week, I was able to meet with the Italian designer (who gives his nationality a lot of credit, believe me!). Please enjoy the interview where he explains his secret of success and why the Swiss women love Italian men.

Roberto and I 4

You will be coming soon to Switzerland for the Fashion Days Zurich. Have you ever been to Zurich? Or will it be your first time in November?

Oh I have of course been to Zurich, many times! What a fantastic city, with a great energy. I love Switzerland, my wife Eva and I have a beautiful boutique in Saint Moritz, the nature is really stunning, it offers up a lot of inspiration.

What do you expect from the Fashion Days Zürich?

I’m really looking forward to taking part in Fashion Days Zürich, it’s a wonderful project. I expect to see new ideas from young, passionate people. I’m always curious about young talent and emerging designers, they are the people who will enter the industry with a fresh mind and new ideas, it’s essential to keep fashion alive!

One contestant will receive an internship with you in Florence. What are the main qualifications you are looking for?

The person will have to be positive, to come with a smile on their face and be driven by a strong desire to learn. I’m looking for raw talent that can be drawn out, and the curiosity of a young person. It’s so important that they are curious to learn!

Do you have an idea how your Swiss customers look like?

It’s not about how my customers look, the Cavalli world is not about looking a certain way! It’s about an attitude, it’s about personality, emotions! I think that my Swiss fans share in these beliefs the same way as my fans in Italy, China or Brazil do!

And oh yes, I had many Swiss girlfriends. The Swiss women are wonderful. They like the Italian men because we appreciate them. The Swiss men are sometimes too dry.


You have many different labels, from the main Roberto Cavalli line to Just Cavalli and Class by Roberto Cavalli, all three in different price levels. Dolce & Gabbana will be stopping their D&G brand and integrate it in the main line because they experienced that consumers didn’t understand the difference.
What about you? Is there a risk of confusion that costumers don’t understand why they should pay more for the Roberto Cavalli runway collection.

No, there is no risk of confusion. Obviously there are a lot of similarities, aesthetically speaking, between Just Cavalli and my main line Roberto Cavalli, because they are both part of the same Cavalli world and vision. But there are very basic and obvious differences too—Just Cavalli has a very young mindset— youthful, free-spirited, carefree! It’s an experimental line, and it obviously has a lower price point, so it’s more accessible than Roberto Cavalli mainline, whereas Roberto Cavalli is more formal and is taking the direction of demi-couture, the artisanship, the attention to detail—this is the fundamental difference.

What is your main target group for Just Cavalli? What is for you the big difference compared to the runway label?

Firstly, Just Cavalli is also a ’runway’ brand! We always have a fashion show, equally as beautiful as for the first line Roberto Cavalli. It may be the second line, but it is my baby! I love designing for Just Cavalli, because for me it’s a world of experimentation, researching and discovering new shapes, styles, materials! Just Cavalli has a ‘younger’ target, I don’t mean ‘younger’ as defined by an age bracket, but a younger philosophy—it’s very free-spirited and carefree and is highly competitive in the market segment known as “designer contemporary”. Roberto Cavalli is obviously accessible to a narrower target, it’s more exclusive of course, but I put the same amount of love and thought into each line.

The Just Cavalli line will not lose its distinct style codes, which have led to its success over the years, but will however evolve.

Is Just Cavalli your favourite son? Speaking in a metaphor.

I have three sons and two daughters. So yes, probably Just Cavalli is my fourth son. He is a little son but he grows very fast. But for a few seasons he was making me a little nervous, he was not good in school. But now, we have changed school and it is fantastic. And I enjoy teaching my son Just Cavalli. The DNA Cavalli is definitely there. He is a good son. He made so much progress.

Which do you think was the most important advice you have given your children? Did you expect them to work for you? Or did it happen naturally?

I got to where I am by believing in myself and following my heart, so I encourage my children to do the same! I’m proud to say that despite leading a very hectic life, I’ve always been very present in my children’s lives and I love having them around me in the work-place…but! If one day they decided “Papà, I want to leave the company to follow a different dream“, they would be leaving 100% with my blessing!

What was the most important thing you have learned from your father?

Sadly, I lost my father when I was very young, four years old. Luckily for me I had my outstanding mother! What a fantastic, marvellous person, a very brave woman … she was also present, by my side, in every phase of my life. She encouraged me to always carry on in the face of difficulties.


Please describe yourself in three words.

Passionate, curious, optimistic!

The secret of your success.

Self-belief and passion.

What makes a woman irresistible and sexy?

It’s not just how a woman looks but how she feels. I design my clothing so that the woman wearing my dress feels confident and believes in her beauty … it empowers her and this makes her fascinating. And last but not least the eyes. They are the soul of a woman!

Who is the most beautiful woman in the world? The sexiest woman alive?

Oh! What a question, there are too many beautiful women to name! Honestly I think that the sexiest woman alive is someone with great personality and strong character, a woman who knows who she is and what she wants! And, of course, she is even more beautiful if she is wearing a Roberto Cavalli dress, no?

Please tell us something about your iconic printed photographs on your materials!

Absolutely. That is my style. This makes the difference. Therefore they all like to copy me. I am the designer of the animal prints. Why? I remember one night in Kenia. I took a photo of a leopard. When you look at my prints, you can see the hair on it. Today, all the other designers copy me and do it my way. Two days ago, they opened a new store on Via della Spiga. So I thought: Ohmygod a new Cavalli store? It was no Cavalli, it was another designer but it looked completely Cavalli. My style is my style! This makes me nervous.

You have so many different projects and licenses, like the Just Cavalli restaurant in Milan, the Caffè Giacosa In Firenze, your own chocolats, vodka, wine, eyewear, clothes for dogs, childrenswear.
You have created a Cavalli universe? Where does the inspiration come from? Where are the limits?

Limits? This word is not in my vocabulary! The inspiration comes from everywhere, when you are a curious person you find everything you look for and more. I travel a lot, I’m a lover of the outdoors, of nature—my creations always have a connection to nature! What a beautiful world we live in!

Thank you Mr. Cavalli!

Roberto and I 2

My dear readers, I hope that you have liked the interview!

LoL, Sandra

Photos: © Sandra Bauknecht