Italian fashion designer Roberto Cavalli, designer of the jet-set for decades thanks to his python skins and flamboyant prints, died on Friday April 12 at the age of 83, Italian media reported. The Italian agency ANSA specified that the designer died at his home, in the city of Florence, from a long illness.

Couteur to stars of the 1970s like Brigitte Bardot or Sophia Loren, for whom he created outfits generously revealing the skin and shapes, he continued to seduce celebrities of more recent generations, from Kim Kardashian to Jennifer Lopez.

Roberto Cavalli loved Ferraris, big cigars, and tight shirts wide open on a perpetually tanned chest. He’d married a Miss Universe finalist, owned a purple helicopter and a vineyard in Tuscany, and was up and down with the who’s who of Hollywood.

Born on November 15, 1940 in Florence, the leather capital of the world, Mr. Cavalli began by painting T-shirts to earn money during his art studies. In 2012, he recounted on his blog how, in 1970, he was invited to a party and found himself face to face with the host, a stylist: wanting to save face, he told him that he was doing printed on leather. The stylist asked him to come back the next day with samples and so Cavalli hurried to find soft, fine leather on which he printed floral patterns. The stylist was won over and Cavalli’s career was launched.

The Italian couturier patented several of his methods, which attracted the attention of the luxury house Hermès and the couturier Pierre Cardin. In the 1970s, he opened a boutique in Saint-Tropez, one of the jet-set hotspots on the French Riviera, and presented his first collection in Paris. He then returned to his hometown, where he presented his couture denim creations in the sumptuous setting of the Pitti Palace.

“Even fish have fantastic colorful dress.”

Speaking to Vogue in 2011 about his animal prints, the animal lover, whose personal menagerie included a monkey, commented: “I love anything that has a connection to nature. » “I realized that even fish have fantastic colorful coats, as do snakes and tigers. I understood that God is truly the best stylist, so I started copying God,” he told the magazine.

Beyond fashion, his empire extended to furniture, wine, jewelry and even vodka. He also created a collection for the Swedish giant H

Despite everything, his brand gradually faced financial difficulties linked to increased competition from houses controlled by the giants LVMH and Kering, and Mr. Cavalli left the artistic direction of his group in 2013. Two years later, the fund Clessidra, based in Milan, bought 90% of it, but failed to stem the losses.

Ultimately, Cavalli was acquired in November 2019 by Vision Investments, the investment fund of Dubai real estate tycoon Hussain Sajwani.