"King of leopard print" Roberto Cavalli passed away at the age of 83.

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April 12th, the eponymous founder of the Italian luxury fashion brand Roberto Cavalli passed away in his hometown of Florence, Italy. He left behind six children he had with three partners. According to ANSA news agency, Roberto Cavalli had been ill for a while, and his health had deteriorated recently.

Born on November 15, 1940, in Florence, Roberto Cavalli and his eponymous brand have been renowned for their signature printed clothing throughout. As an animal lover (he kept all kinds of cats and dogs and even once kept a small tiger), his designed animal patterns, especially "leopard prints," are world-famous, and he is therefore called "the King of leopard print."

The quote from Roberto Cavalli himself cited in the company's Instagram statement, and also in a speech at Oxford University in 2013, "I imitate the clothes of animals. Even fish have wonderful and colorful 'clothes,' and snakes and tigers are the same. I began to understand that God is indeed the best designer, so I began to imitate God."

Growing up in the artistic capital of Italy, Florence, Roberto Cavalli's grandfather was a renowned painter, and he himself studied textile printing at a local art academy. While in school, he began to earn money by painting on T-shirts. According to his own recollection in a blog in 2012, in 1970, he "broke into" a party and, upon meeting the host who was a designer, lied and said he was engaged in leather printing work. The next day, when the designer asked to see some of his work, Roberto Cavalli quickly found some thin and soft leather samples and printed flower patterns on them, leaving a deep impression on the designer, and he himself was also deeply fascinated.

Subsequently, Roberto Cavalli drew inspiration from glove designs and began to use calf leather as the raw material and applied for a new patent for printing patterns on leather. He was a technically innovative "technician," with unique creations and inventions in areas such as knitted fabric printing, patchwork, elastic denim, and won industry recognition. Herm├Ęs, Pierre Cardin, and other major brands have all become his clients.

In the 1970s, Roberto Cavalli founded his eponymous brand in Florence, Ottomano Rollo, producing and selling high-end fashion, ready-to-wear, and accessories. He first collaborated with others and then later operated alone. Subsequently, Roberto Cavalli opened a brand store in the wealthy resort of Saint-Tropez, France, and launched his product line for the first time in Paris. Later, he also made an appearance at the showroom of the Pitti Palace in Florence, combining simple fabrics with professional tailoring and catching people's attention with its unique bohemian denim patchwork designs.

If in the 1980s, Roberto Cavalli's highly recognizable exotic designs were somewhat out of place with the prevailing minimalist trend that was popular at the time, then in the 1990s ten years later, Roberto Cavalli's faux-aged jeans were timely and a great success.

After that, his fashion empire gradually expanded to children's wear, home furnishings, wine, shoes, jewelry. In the 2000s, Roberto Cavalli opened the first coffee shop in Florence and opened the Just Cavalli club in Milan. In 2005, Roberto Cavalli also launched a vodka series in the United States, decorated with its signature snake skin pattern on the bottle. In addition, Roberto Cavalli also designed prop costumes for the film The Decameron directed by David Leland, bringing his design style to the screen; and in 2007, he designed a fast fashion high-street collection for the Swedish fast fashion giant H&M, bringing his style to a wider fashion crowd.

In the following decades, Roberto Cavalli designed tour clothing for celebrities such as Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera, and Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, Nicole Kidman, Bella Hadid, Naomi Campbell, and Zendaya Coleman have all worn clothing designed by Roberto Cavalli.

In the second decade of the 21st century, the independently operating Roberto Cavalli found it increasingly difficult to move forward in the increasingly competitive luxury goods market. In 2013, Roberto Cavalli resigned as the creative director of the brand; two years later, the Milan-based private equity fund Clessidra acquired 90% of Roberto Cavalli's shares (the remaining 10% were retained by Roberto Cavalli himself), but the restructuring also failed to turn around the losses. After applying for trusteeship and closing its stores in the United States, Roberto Cavalli was acquired in November 2019 by Vision Investments, a private investment company of Dubai real estate billionaire Hussain Sajwani.

At the end of 2023, the current CEO of Roberto Cavalli, Sergio Azzolari, publicly disclosed that the Roberto Cavalli brand achieved approximately EUR 120 million in revenue in 2023 (a substantial increase from EUR 87 million in 2022), with losses reduced from EUR 23 million last year to EUR 4 million, and it is expected to reach the break-even point in 2024 and achieve profit for the first time. In addition, the brand aims to reach a revenue scale of EUR 4 to 500 million and "plans to expand into accessories, footwear, and daily wear categories while maintaining the position of women's ready-to-wear as our core business."

In addition, the younger sub-brand of Roberto Cavalli, Just Cavalli, was relaunched in September 2022. With the support of the new owner, Dubai real estate billionaire Hussain Sajwani, the Roberto Cavalli brand also plans to enter the hotel industry, with plans to open two hotels, "one in the city and the other as a resort on an island." In addition, last July, the Roberto Cavalli brand also signed a global exclusive perfume license agreement with French perfume manufacturer Inter Parfums Inc.

On the day of Roberto Cavalli's passing, the Roberto Cavalli company issued a statement on Instagram stating, "Today, with great sadness, we bid a final farewell to the founder, Robert Cavalli. He was born in humble beginnings in Florence but succeeded in becoming a globally renowned name, beloved and respected by all. Robert Cavalli was naturally talented and highly creative, and he believed that everyone could discover and develop into an artist. His legacy will continue through his creativity, his love for nature, and the family he cherished."

Since taking up the position of brand creative director in October 2020 (the 50th anniversary of the brand's establishment), Fausto Puglisi also paid tribute in a statement, "Being able to work under your legacy and create for the brand that you founded with such a vision and style has been the greatest honor of my career. Rest in peace, you will be missed by many, and your name will continue, (you are) my lighthouse of inspiration."

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