Renowned Italian Designer Roberto Cavalli Dies At Age 83

He championed animal print.

Arnaldo Magnani/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Fashion Designer Roberto Cavalli Dies At 83

The fashion industry is mourning the loss of esteemed Italian designer Roberto Cavalli, who has died at age 83. On Friday April 12, the tragic news was confirmed by an Instagram post from his eponymous label. “It is with great sadness that today we say our final goodbyes to our founder Roberto Cavalli,” the caption read. “From humble beginnings in Florence, Roberto succeeded in becoming a globally recognized name loved and respected by all.” Known for championing animal print and all things glamour, Cavalli will forever be remembered as a trailblazing designer.

Born in a family of creatives (his grandfather, Giuseppe Rossi, was a celebrated painter), Cavalli studied at the Florence State Institute of Art, where he focused on textile print. Cavalli hit his stride in 1970 after debuting his inaugural collection at the annual Salon du Prêt-à-Porter in Paris, which made its runway debut in Florence and Milan two years later. Around this time, Cavalli invented a cutting-edge approach to printing on leather and suede — a technique that garnered attention (and earned him commissions) from big industry players like Hermès and Pierre Cardin. In 1972, the designer opened his first boutique, Limbo, in Saint-Tropez, a beachy, fashion-filled French town. (The store attracted mega-famous celebrities like Brigitte Bardot and Sophia Loren.)

Evan Agostini/Getty Images Entertainment

Flash forward to the ‘90s, and Robert Cavalli became a household name thanks to his popular sandblasted denim style, a unique process that required incorporating Lycra into the material to create a worn-in effect. Supermodel Naomi Campbell wore the jeans on Cavalli’s 1993 runway, and naturally, the masses took notice. Animal print looks, too, became a trademark look for Cavalli. “Molto sexy, molto animal print and molto, molto Italiano,” British newspaper The Independent once said of his signature aesthetic.

Roberto Cavalli Fall/Winter 2001 Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images
Roberto Cavalli Fall/Winter 2002Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

Cavalli is survived by his six children and his partner, Sandra Bergman Nilsson.