HomeFashionVictoria Beckham and Giorgio Armani lead tributes to 'iconic Italian fashion designer...

Victoria Beckham and Giorgio Armani lead tributes to ‘iconic Italian fashion designer Roberto Cavalli following his death, aged 83, hailing him a ‘legend’

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Former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham and designer Giorgio Armani have led tributes to Roberto Cavalli following announcement of his death on Friday after a long illness.

Sharing a tribute on her Instagram stories, Beckham posted a photo of herself holding hands with Cavalli whilst he had his hand raised and made the peace sign. 

She wrote: ‘So sorry to hear the sad news of Roberto’s passing. He’ll forever be an icon.’

Giorgio Armani had high praise for the ‘true artist’, writing on Twitter/X: ‘I cannot imagine a vision of fashion more distant from mine than that of Roberto Cavalli, yet I have always had enormous respect for him.’

He continued: ‘Roberto was a true artist, wild and wonderful in his use of prints, capable of transforming fantasy into seductive clothes. I have learnt with great sadness of his passing: his Tuscan verve will be greatly missed.’

Brazilian model Adriana Lima said alongside a picture of her and Cavalli on X: ‘Unapologetic in style & spirit. We lost a legend today. Rest in Peace, @Roberto-Cavalli’. 

Roberto Cavalli, whose penchant for python and flamboyant animal prints made him the darling of the international jet set for decades, died aged 83 on Friday, his luxury brand said.

‘It is with deep regret and a great sadness the Roberto Cavalli Maison participates in the passing of its founder Roberto Cavalli,’ wrote the company in a statement.

‘From humble beginnings in Florence Mr. Cavalli succeeded in becoming a globally recognised name loved and respected by all,’ the statement continued.

Former Spice Girl and designer Victoria Beckham shared a photo of her arriving with Cavalli at the Swarovski Fashion Rocks for the Prince’s Trust in Monaco, Monday, October 17, 2005

Roberto Cavalli during Milan Menswear Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2008

Roberto Cavalli during Milan Menswear Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2008

Roberto Cavalli and the Spice Girls attend the Roberto Cavalli Menswear Autumn/Winter 2008/2009 fashion show in Milan, January 14, 2008

Roberto Cavalli and the Spice Girls attend the Roberto Cavalli Menswear Autumn/Winter 2008/2009 fashion show in Milan, January 14, 2008

Italian news agency ANSA reported that the designer died at home in Florence, the city where he was born, after a long illness.

Tributes have flooded in for Cavalli, whose work has been worn by a host of stars over the years, including Brigitte Bardot, Kim Kardashian, Nicki Minaj and Jennifer Lopez.

American singer and actress Jennifer Hudson wrote on the Twitter/X: ‘Roberto Cavalli was always one of my favorite designers. A true artist in every sense of the word!

‘He made the world a more beautiful place and will be dearly missed. May he rest in peace!’

Italian President Giorgia Meloni wrote on Twitter/X: ‘With the passing of Roberto Cavalli, Italy and the world of fashion lose a great entrepreneur and innovator. 

‘His name will forever and everywhere remain synonymous with style. My deepest condolences go to his loved ones.’

Responding to the news, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said: ‘Roberto Cavalli said of his fascination with animal prints and fur: “I love nature. Animals have the best dresses. God made them so well-dressed.”

‘But people with a true reverence for nature choose to protect animals, not persecute them, as PETA made clear to the designer when we crashed his furry catwalks. 

‘Before he passed, his namesake brand finally embraced luxurious faux fur, proving that imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery. We hope that his admirers—and anyone who cares about wildlife—will choose to do the same.’

American singer Aaliyah wrote on Twitter/X: ‘We are sadden to hear the passing of the fashion legend,

‘Not only did he play a huge role in the fashion world, but for Aaliyah’s fashion imagery, currating her most iconic looks, from red carpet dresses, & music videos outfits [sic].

‘Rest In Paradise, Roberto.’ 

Italian designer Roberto Cavalli poses for a photo, in Sydney, Australia, 30 October 2012

Italian designer Roberto Cavalli poses for a photo, in Sydney, Australia, 30 October 2012

Roberto Cavalli and his partner Sandra Nilsson together in a photo shared on social media

Roberto Cavalli and his partner Sandra Nilsson together in a photo shared on social media

Born November 15, 1940 in Florence, Italy‘s premier leatherworking centre, Cavalli was known for his use of printed leather and stretchy, sand-blasted jeans.

The designer was tapped in 2005 to update the Playboy Bunnies’ scanty uniform – true to form, he introduced one version in leopard print.

First seen in the 1970s on stars such as Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot, Cavalli’s skin-baring, eye-popping styles were still favoured years on by later generations of celebrities, from Kim Kardashian to Jennifer Lopez.

Cavalli had a taste for Ferraris, fat cigars and tailored shirts unbuttoned to expose his tanned chest. 

He married a Miss Universe runner-up, owned a purple helicopter and a Tuscan vineyard, and was on a first-name basis with Hollywood A-listers.

But the designer also weathered challenges, including a dry spell in the 1980s when minimalism took hold on runways and his form-fitting, feathered creations looked out of step.

A years-long trial in Italy on tax evasion charges ultimately ended in Cavalli’s acquittal, but after his eponymous fashion house began posting losses, a majority stake was sold to private equity in 2015.

Best known for his use of printed leather and stretchy, sand-blasted jeans, Cavalli always embraced the wow factor in his designs, never encountering an animal print he did not like.

Of his ubiquitous use of prints, the animal lover – whose menagerie once included a monkey – told Vogue in 2011: ‘I like everything that is of nature.’

‘I started to appreciate that even fish have a fantastic coloured ‘dress’, so does the snake, and the tiger. I start(ed) to understand that God is really the best designer, so I started to copy God,’ he told the magazine.

In the 1980s Cavalli’s instantly recognisable, exotic designs were out of sync with the minimalist look that was all the rage, but the designer came back with a bang a decade later with distressed looking jeans that proved a hit.

His fashion empire expanded to home furnishings, wine, shoes, jewellery and even a line of vodka, its bottle sheathed in snakeskin.

Taking his style to the high street, he designed a fast-fashion line for Swedish retail giant H&M and tour outfits for Beyonce, among others.

But the label began to suffer financial difficulties amid increased competition from well-funded brands owned by fashion conglomerates LVMH and Kering, and Cavalli stepped down as creative director in 2013.

Two years later, Milan-based private equity group Clessidra bought a 90-percent stake in the company, but a restructuring failed to reverse losses.

After filing for administration and closing its US stores, the fashion group was bought in November 2019 by Vision Investments, the private investment company of Dubai real-estate billionaire Hussain Sajwani.

Roberto Cavalli at Andy & Patti Wong's Chinese New Year party 2007 at the County Hall Gallery on January 26th 2008 in London

Roberto Cavalli at Andy & Patti Wong’s Chinese New Year party 2007 at the County Hall Gallery on January 26th 2008 in London

Sergio Azzolari, chief executive of Roberto Cavalli, confirmed the fashion designer had died

Sergio Azzolari, chief executive of Roberto Cavalli, confirmed the fashion designer had died

Cavalli was born on November 15, 1940 in Florence, Italy’s premier leatherworking centre, and began painting on T-shirts to earn money while at art school.

He recalled in his blog in 2012 how he gate-crashed a party in 1970, and, seeking to save face when he met the host, who was a designer, told him that he printed on leather.

When the designer asked to see some of his work the next day, Cavalli hurried to find samples of thin, supple leather onto which he printed a flower design.

The designer was impressed, and Cavalli was hooked.

Taking his inspiration from glove design, Cavalli began working with calfskin, patenting a new way to print leather with patterns that soon caught the eye of French luxury goods maker Hermes and the late designer Pierre Cardin.

In the 1970s, he opened a shop in Saint Tropez, playground of the world’s glitterati, and debuted his collection in Paris.

He went on to present for the first time in Italy at Florence’s opulent Palazzo Pitti, grabbing attention with his boho-chic patchwork designs on denim that married the unpretentious fabric with expert tailoring.

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