Roberto Cavalli, a Master of Maximalism, Dies at 83

Roberto Cavalli passed away today at 83 in Florence, Italy. The famed designer started his
namesake brand in the mid-1970s by working primarily with animal print leathers, which quickly became a signature. By the ’90s, he expanded to billowing silk dresses, printed corset tops, and l0w-slung denim jeans that, to this day, are still coveted among vintage-obsessed fashionphiles.

Fans of the creative included Kylie Minogue, Jennifer Lopez, Bella Hadid, and Lenny Kravitz. He memorably collaborated with H&M in 2008, cementing his place as one of the first luxury designers to bring their vision to the mass market. Cavalli’s clothes were carefully considered, unequivocally Italian, and always on the right side of maximalism while flirting with tackiness—in the best way possible. His pieces were fully committed to being the sexiest, slinkiest dresses in your closet, something you simply couldn’t find anywhere else. As he cheekily once said, “I copy the dress of an animal because I love to copy God. I think God is the most fantastic designer.”

a person in a garment

Tom Munro

Rihanna, photographed by Tom Munro in Roberto Cavalli for ELLE in May 2012.

Cavalli shows were never without high-slit dresses rendered in cheetah, zebra, or even giraffe, and he used the prints to his advantage. His adage was “more is more,” with accessories piled on, mascara and eyeliner always smoky, and heels always, always high.

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Christian Alminana//Getty Images

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