Fashion Designer Roberto Cavalli and Heidi Klum
Farewell to Flamboyant Celebrity Designer Roberto Cavalli Courtesy of Daniele Venturelli/amfARmfw/Getty

The fashion world just lost another legend. Iconic Italian designer Roberto Cavalli—king of leopard print and sexy, flashy, attention-grabbing runway and red style—has died at 83. The death of the designer—who stepped down from his label in 2015 but whose Y2K, maximalism and celebrity style influence lives on today via a new breed of Hollywood stars including Zendaya— was announced on the brand's official Instagram.

In celebration of the designer's high-octane style and equally flamboyant life: here are a few fun facts and wow fashion moments.

He Was King of The Jungle
Cavalli was famous for sending models and celebrities down the runway in leopard-print dresses, distressed denim, and decadent jewelry. "I like fashion that is different — minimalism is boring," he told an audience at the University of Oxford in 2013. His signature style was perhaps best described as "molto sexy, molto animal print and molto, molto Italiano," by British newspaper The Independent.

He Put Stretch Denim Jeans on the Map
Cavalli started his career in the 1970s making patchwork elevated denim jeans, jackets, and minidresses which he sold in a boutique in St. Tropez, on the French Riviera (Brigitte Bardot and Sophia Loren were fans). It was in 1993 that the relatively unknown designer shot to fame when he added Lcrya to jeans and sent supermodel Naomi Campbell down the runway in a pair that stretch jeans and Roberto Cavalli was born.

He Ruled the Flashy Supermodel 90s Era
Cavalli was the hottest name—yes, he achieved single-name status—throughout the glamor-fuelled nineties and the man behind celebrity and pop star wardrobes including Cindy Crawford, Britney Spears, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, and Beyoncé. His unapologetically sexy style however fell out of favor in the late 90s when a new era of paired-down minimalism was ushered in by Calvin Klein.

His Career was Revived by "Sex and The City"
The early naughts saw Cavalli reclaim his title as the king of high-fashion glamor thanks in part to "Sex and the City". When Carrie Bradshaw wore a giraffe-spot Cavalli dress and peony-pattern jeans lust for Cavalli's wild "la dolce vita" fashion styles went through the roof. He even designed outfits for the 'Spice Girls' tour in 2007.

His Life was as Flamboyant as his Clothes
Cavalli was always bronzed, always had a cigar in hand, and lived a very public life of excess and luxury. He piloted a glittering purple helicopter, sailed around the Mediterranean in a purple yacht, and lived in a rambling farmhouse outside Florence, with his family and a menagerie of pets including a monkey.

Gianni Versace was a Hater
Fellow Italian, Gianni Versace predated Cavalli's rise as the maximalist celebrity designer of the moment and perhaps that didn't sit well as Versace famously called Cavalli's clothes vulgar, tarty, unsubtle. "This is a man for whom zebra print is a neutral," the designer told The New York Times. Sorry, but we tend to agree: leopard and zebra prints are totally a neutral.

He Experienced Great tragedy in his Early Life
Cavalli was born in 1940 in a suburb of Florence. His mother was a seamstress and his father worked for a mining company. In World War 11 during a retaliatory attack against the Italian Resistance, Cavalli's father was killed by German soldiers.

The Cavalli Brand was a bit of a Rollercoaster Post Cavalli
Cavalli stepped down as creative director from his namesake company in 2015 and turbulence followed. He was replaced by Peter Dundas who was replaced after a short stint by Paul Surridge in 2017, and then Fausto Puglisi in 2019, who helms the brand today.

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