“I would like to heal the world with a smile.”
Roberto Cavalli lives on a large property in the hills outside of Florence, in a large farmhouse that has been transformed into a country palazzo with additional bedrooms and spaces, which is a common occurrence with houses in Tuscany.
His home is much like him, his fashions, and his plants. Everywhere there are flowers, parrots, and antique furnishings – perhaps covered in fur or zebra or leopard print fabrics. He’s in a good mood, having recently returned from a long trip to the Pacific islands, where he took an endless number of photographs.
Is photography a new passion?
It has always been a passion to some extent. I like to take pictures of nature, and lately I’ve discovered some extraordinary orchids.
Will they be used as prints on your clothing?
You’ve been working in fashion for forty years. Is that too long?
No. Not if one has fashion in his blood like I do. Forty years isn’t too long. On the contrary.
Where did this passion come from?
I had a great desire to step foot on the planet of fashion where one, however, needs to know how to navigate. Navigating is certainly not easy.
In what way?
You need to learn the language and know how to communicate.
What was your welcome into this world like?
I liked this world right away. I liked the idea of being able to bring the word “art” together with the word “fashion”. I consider myself to be an artist not a designer. Designers create silhouettes. I create motifs and shapes.
This world has been for two periods in your life and you took a break of almost fifteen years. Why was that?
Because I was putting up resistance. I felt more creative living in Paris in those years, and I didn’t want to become an industrialist. I refused to get on board with the industrialisation of fashion. Then in the later half of the 1990s, when there was an opening, I understood that I had to start playing this part. I had to become an actor.
When I do an interview, I have to say things my audience will like. And to the general public I have to say that I like to go out at night. That I only drink Dom Pérignon champagne or that I only spend time on the French Riviera. The reality is that when one becomes a personality, he needs to play the part of the person people want him to be.
What about your clothes?
My clothes are always for the red carpet. Clothes to be worn to big parties. Personally, I love nature and colour. I am a positive person. I love to be cheerful, and I want to heal the world with a smile.
How many Cavalli stores are there around the world?
What are some of the places where you have most success in the world?
I have success just about everywhere. In Russia, the Middle East, India, and Italy. They know me less in Japan.
How is Italian fashion doing?
Well, but it could be doing better if there were greater organisation. It’s as if we were all doomed to be jealous of one another in fashion. But in this way it’s difficult to create a system. Everyone has to go in his own direction. It’s different in France. There are two big groups, and it’s easier to create a system.
What does your brand mean after forty years?
It needs to make them dream, exactly as it did when I started out.
Must a woman always be sexy?
Absolutely. And behind the wheel of a Fiat 500 designed by Cavalli, she would certainly be sexy.
What makes a woman sexy? Wearing blue jeans, boots, and very tight clothes?
I don’t think that this is enough. A woman is sexy if she has the desire to be sexy.
Up to what age can she be considered sexy?
Up to a thousand years. Being sexy is certainly a state of mind.
Have you made some controversial comments about the fashion shows in Milan?
Well, yes, of course. Unlike many of my colleagues, I have no intention of spending millions and millions to have a building constructed just to show my collections a few times a year. I would like to be given a nicer, larger space where I can hold my fashion shows, but at the moment this isn’t what is happening.
After forty years of doing this work, is your family now involved?
Absolutely, yes. Especially my wife, and two of my children who work with me in different roles and capacities. All of us together make for an excellent team.
23rd May, 2010