Roberto Cavalli's brand of OTT, high octane glamour has recently fallen back into favour with celebrities such as Kim Kardashian wearing his iconic archive pieces from the 2000s. We decided to share some insight into the history of the brand as well as some of our favourite Roberto Cavalli moments.
Born in Florence in 1940 with an artistic streak already running in the family (his grandfather was Giuseppe Rossi was a painter in The Macchiaioli Group), Cavalli went to study at the Florence Art Academy at 17 years old in 1957. It was here that Cavalli played around with prints and textiles, experimenting with paint on textiles and steering away from his initial dream of becoming a painter like his grandfather. In 1967, Cavalli married his first wife Silvanella Gianonni and with her had two children. Three years after their marriage, Cavalli launched his namesake brand, sending a series of printed leather gowns down the runway, garnering some well-deserved attention. Prior to the full collection, Cavalli had taken glove skin from a French tannery and decided to print on it, something that hadn’t really been done before. Cavalli proceeded to patent his technique which saw him earning commissions from the likes of Hermès and Pierre Cardin.
Unfortunately, due to the rise in minimalist fashion and the deconstruction techniques used by Japanese and Belgian designers in the 80’s, Cavalli’s luxury maximalist brand did not do so well around that time. It wasn’t until the late 80’s and early 90’s that Cavalli made its famous stamp on the denim industry. In 1988, Cavalli showed the first of his denim in the form of a pair of jeans that had been printed on. For his A/W 1994 collection, he had created his famous sand-blasted jeans that proceeded to become extremely popular. Then just one year later, in 1995, Cavalli worked with Lycra to invent stretch denim. This impressive achievement saw Cavalli’s popularity soar in the 90’s and changed the denim industry as the world knew it. As a result of his success with denim, Cavalli launched Cavalli Jeans in 1998 (renamed Just Cavalli in 2000).
In the early 2000s, Cavalli designs were sported by celebrities on many red carpet events. The iconic red leather dress with painted graphic detailing from Cavalli's Spring/Summer 2003 collection was worn by Christina Aguilera on the red carpet of the VH1 Awards. This 2003 collection included an array of different materials from leather to lace, a clash of contrasting prints, gold metallic accents and printed cherry blossom silks. Waist corsets were layered over free flowing dresses and there were many bustier tops and dresses that accentuated the female figure seen down the runway. This particular collection became significant in Cavalli's career as many other celebrities such as Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez wore dresses from this season. Later in 2007, Cavalli stated that Christina Aguilera was his new fashion muse and designed all her outfits for the Xtina 'Back to Basics' tour.
Another favourite Cavalli look seen in the spotlight was an incredible green and blue Cavalli dress worn by Victoria Beckham in 2005. This gown exuded elegance with cut out details that draped along Victoria's waist line.
The R&B singer, Aaliyah's showcased an unforgettable Roberto Cavalli fashion moment at the VMA awards in 2000. The iconic black and yellow tiger print slip dress featured an asymmetrical feathered fur hemline. This design was a true representation of Cavalli's signature design style and his love of animal print. Another Cavalli feather moment was worn by Christina Aguilera in 2003 at the VMA awards. The pop queen wore a Roberto Cavalli hot pink mini dress covered in feathers and crystals.
Shop Irvrsbl's curated selection of vintage Roberto Cavalli pieces online here.