This year is the 40th anniversary of Roberto Cavalli's super sexy and hi-glam eponymous label. Cavalli clothes are known across the world for being worn by the rich and famous, and are a regular feature on the red carpet. Far from being behind the scenes, Roberto has made the brand as much about his own exuberant personality as its dominant sex appeal. Standing very much as the face of his label, Cavalli has become a significant figure not just in the fashion world, but is also often name checked along with his famous fans, which currently include Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez, Victoria Beckham and Alicia Keys. We talk to him about how it all began, and his life as the icon of glam and seductive fashion.
Dazed Digital: Did you always want to dress both men and women?
Roberto Cavalli: It was always about the women for me. I started menswear about ten years ago, but sometimes I feel like I should have never started! No, I am joking of course, but most men are like me, we would like to change something about our appearance, but we are too afraid. We change one colour or one jacket, and it is not really enough for me to be as creative as I want to be.
DD: Is it the freedom that designing womenswear gives you, that you like so much?
Roberto Cavalli: Yes of course, but I have also always been very interested in women and the way a beautiful woman can look. Even before I was designing, when I was a young guy, I used to spend my free time in the Palazzo Signoria looking at beautiful American tourist's. It may sound stupid, but as a young guy in Florence, it was the highlight of my day.
DD: What was it that first made you want to start designing?
Roberto Cavalli: Perhaps it was seeing these women, looking at them and seeing the way the shape and the style of a dress can alter and accentuate the figure.
DD: You are known now for your use of luxury fabrics and techniques, such as the way you pioneered print on leather. Is this something you have always been interested in?
Roberto Cavalli: The fabrics were not always luxury, but I was aware that I wanted to create something high end. I began by working with old jeans and recycling them. I would import old jeans from America in vast containers and rework them, adding patches, embroidery and beautiful sections from vintage silk scarves.
DD: You have built the Cavalli brand hugely since you began and have now diversified into many outlets including beachware, accessories, even vodka and a children's label. Is there anything you still want to develop?
Roberto Cavalli: Homeware, I want to be really strong in this. I have a beautiful house and I want people to experience the things in it that I love. When I first became famous, around 1985, people started to love me not just because I was a designer but because of my lifestyle. My parties in Sardinia back then were the greatest in the world, everyone was there, and at that time we made Sardinia the chicest place in the world. I want to design objects that really have this feeling about them.
DD: You have worked closely with your wife Eva since the early 80s. Was she the influence that led you to build the Cavalli brand so diversely?
Roberto Cavalli: Yes definitely, and also later she very much became the PR of the company. Today I am a little bit tired to represent Cavalli myself constantly, and she still enjoys it very much. She is still beautiful and elegant. I love to see her and how she represents us.
The November issue of Dazed & Confused is out now
Photography by Carlotta Manaigo
Styling by Robbie Spencer
Hair Marco Braca at Close Up
Make-up Laura Stucchi at Close Up
Models Nina Porter at Select, Juan Mirangels at D Men