At Roberto Cavalli, Fausto Puglisi reinterprets today’s sexy

Written by Nick Remsen, CNNMilan

If you’re a millennial who grew up on a BlackBerry Messenger diet, celebrity tabloid news (never forget Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan crammed into Hilton’s Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren), and style icons who donned Von Dutch trucker hats and The Alexander McQueen Skull Scarves, you may also remember Roberto Cavalli.

For years, the Italian fashion designer was a mainstay of the red carpet, dressing everyone from Beyoncé’s new solo and “Dirrty” era Christina Aguilera to Kate Moss and Jennifer Lopez in eye-catching, form-fitting ensembles that embodied the look of the decade. me excess. From the time he founded his eponymous brand in 1972 until his retirement in 2014, Cavalli delivered an array of tiger stripes, giraffe spots, butterfly wings, chiffon rags, sequins, glitter, glitter and glam. Her aesthetic was in the same exaggerated vein of Versace and Dolce & Gabbana, but it was accompanied by a smokier, more sultry air of indulgence.

Beyonce wore a golden Roberto Cavalli number at the Brit Awards in 2004. Credit: Steve Finn / Getty Images

These days, however, the Roberto Cavalli brand is back in the spotlight with a slightly different energy thanks to the appointment of Sicilian-born designer Fausto Puglisi.

Puglisi took over as lead creative consultant in October 2020, after the house went a year without a designer at the helm (previous directors, besides the namesake, included Peter Dundas and Paul Surridge). By this point, Puglisi had long been popular with its own eponymous line, which since 2010 had gained worldwide fame for its sporty yet extravagant Italian-style aesthetic and celebrity style. (Nicki Minaj and MIA wore Fausto Puglisi when they performed with Madonna at Super Bowl 2012.)

Christina Aguilera pictured in a Roberto Cavalli cherry red leather mini dress at the 2002 VH1 Big In Awards.

Christina Aguilera pictured in a Roberto Cavalli cherry red leather mini dress at the 2002 VH1 Big In Awards. Credit: Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

Yet where the Roberto Cavalli look of yesteryear was perpetually party-ready, dripping with natural patterns and often barely there (see Victoria Beckham at the Swarovski Fashion Rocks gala in Monaco circa 2005), Puglisi seeks to steer the brand towards more. of contemporary sensitivity. For her Spring / Summer 2022 collection, presented on Wednesday at Milan Fashion Week, that vision manifested itself via jeweled Birkenstocks, and separates like leisure bodysuits, palazzo pants and hoodies, among the de facto volume of Cavalli – and loucheness.

The legendary fashion house has sought to incorporate comfort into its latest line of men's clothing.

The legendary fashion house has sought to incorporate comfort into its latest line of men’s clothing. Credit: Monique Feudi

“I think the concept before was that everyone had to be a goddess,” Puglisi told Zoom from Milan days before her show. “For me, I am less on the glamazone than on a democratic approach to the wardrobe, while keeping the fun spirit of the brand.”

For the brand’s men’s clothing line, he takes a similar approach, eschewing the old “Saint-Tropez playboy” aesthetic for something more relevant. “This is not a playboy’s time; this is a much more inclusive and expansive dream time,” he said.

The Italian house used the archives as a starting point for the new collection while seeking to modernize the aesthetic of more is more.

The Italian house used the archives as a starting point for the new collection while seeking to modernize the aesthetic of more is more. Credit: Monique Feudi

When it comes to Hollywood, Puglisi’s Cavalli has quickly become a celebrity favorite. Jennifer Lopez wore a pointy-shoulder canary yellow dress with crystal-encrusted leopard brooches to a Global Citizens concert in May. The following month, Megan Thee Stallion wore a custom feathered dress with a high slit to the BET Awards. Puglisi also created a custom look for Kim Kardashian (Kardashian is also a standout Cavalli fan).

At the show in Milan on Wednesday, model Amelia Gray Hamlin (daughter of actress and reality TV star Lisa Rinna) and “Veneno” star Daniela Santiago sat in the front row. Fashion’s most powerful figure, Anna Wintour, was there too.

Another look from Roberto Cavalli's Spring-Summer 2021 collection unveiled during Milan Fashion Week.

Another look from Roberto Cavalli’s Spring-Summer 2021 collection unveiled during Milan Fashion Week. Credit: Monique Feudi

And yet, at the same time, the public’s appetite for the old-fashioned Cavailli has grown thanks to Gen Z’s continued penchant for Y2K fashion. Beauty influencer Bretman Rock, for example, wore a resized Roberto Cavalli dress with huge tiger stripes and a fur trim to the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards – the same dress late singer Aaliyah wore to the same event in 2000. Meanwhile, in her music video for “Brutal,” released in August, Olivia Rodrigo donned a shimmering minidress previously worn by Britney Spears in 2003.

But Puglisi is not worried; in fact, he’s there for it all. “I never imagined the requests we get,” he said. “I have tremendous gratitude for the people who support me, not just me, but the brand and all of the people who wear it.”

Olivia Rodrigo wore an archival Roberto Cavalli dress in the music video for her track "Brutal" - now watched on YouTube over 21 million times since its release in August.

Olivia Rodrigo wore an archival Roberto Cavalli dress in the music video for her track “Brutal” – now watched on YouTube more than 21 million times since its release in August. Credit: Olivia Rodrigo / YouTube

While the style of the red carpet will always be sexier and more eye-catching than everyday pieces, it is with these wearable options that Puglisi exercises his knack for merging Roberto Cavalli’s legacy with his own understanding of the present moment, skillfully facilitating the brand in the future.

“A lot of people may not know it, but when Roberto started he used to print and paint denim himself in Florence. He was obviously very successful, but it all started humbly. “said Puglisi. “I think the democratization that I want to build (the ties all together) … You can have that glamor and that high impact look, but it can always be rooted in something more universal. So go ahead, I want to be the king of dresses, yes, but also the king of jeans and t-shirts every day. ”

But don’t expect too much of a change, however. With a smile, Puglisi promised: “I will never be a minimalist designer.”

Top image: Victoria Beckham as Roberto Cavalli in 2005.

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