Fashion in Mourning: Roberto Cavalli Passes Away in Florence at 83


The fashion world mourns the loss of Roberto Cavalli, the renowned Italian designer and entrepreneur who passed away in Florence at the age of 83. Cavalli, the founder of the eponymous fashion house, leaves behind a legacy that spans decades, six children, and his 38-year-old partner. As news of his passing spreads, details emerge about the life and contributions of this iconic figure.

Cavalli, a native of Florence born on November 15, 1940, had been battling illness for some time, and in recent days, his health had significantly deteriorated. His family notified close friends and acquaintances of his passing. Known for his artistic flair and belief in unlocking the artist within, Cavalli’s first fashion collection debuted in 1970, marking the beginning of a legendary career.

In his final hours, Cavalli was accompanied by his partner of fifteen years, Sandra Bergman Nilsson, who, just over a year ago, had welcomed their sixth child together.

The fashion house Roberto Cavalli released a statement mourning the loss of its founder: “It is with deep regret and profound sadness that the Maison Roberto Cavalli announces the passing of its founder. From humble Florentine origins, Mr. Cavalli rose to become a globally recognized name, loved and respected by all. He was a natural artist who believed that everyone could discover the artist within themselves. Roberto Cavalli’s legacy will live on through his art, creativity, love for nature, animals, and through his beloved family.”

Roberto Cavalli’s journey from art to fashion began in Florence, where he was influenced by his grandfather, Giuseppe Rossi, a painter associated with the avant-garde artistic movement of the Macchiaioli. Trained at the Academy of Fine Arts in his hometown, Cavalli initially focused on textile applications of painting, later translating them onto leather. Prints, patches, colors, and materials became the hallmarks of his eponymous brand, which gained international recognition.

Cavalli’s early career saw him debut at the Salon du Prêt-à-Porter in Paris before making waves at Palazzo Pitti and Milan Collections in 1972. However, it was the 1990s and 2000s that solidified his success, characterized by his signature animal prints, aged denim, and sandblasted leather.

The evolution of the Roberto Cavalli brand continued with the launch of Just Cavalli and RC Menswear in 1998, followed by the opening of the first boutique-café in Florence in 2002. Collaborations with H&M and the introduction of Angels & Devils further cemented the brand’s status as a global phenomenon.

Behind Cavalli’s success stood his right-hand woman, his ex-wife Eva Maria Düringer, a former Miss Austria and creative director of the Cavalli brands. Their relationship was instrumental, leading to the sale of the brand for the first time in 2015 and subsequently to a Dubai-based billionaire in 2019.

In recent years, the brand has seen a succession of designers at its helm, with Fausto Puglisi currently carrying on Cavalli’s legacy. Puglisi aims to return the brand to its roots while celebrating Cavalli’s past, characterized by strong, sensual men and erotic, semi-nude women, all while embracing the rock-inspired denim and leather that defined the brand.

The spirit of Roberto Cavalli lives not only in the company he founded but also in the craftsmanship and interpretation of materials, showcasing a profound understanding of both fashion and art, now recognized as inseparable entities. As the fashion world mourns his passing, Cavalli’s influence and legacy will continue to inspire generations to come.

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