Sep 28, 2015
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Roberto Cavalli starts a new chapter

Sep 28, 2015

One chapter ends for Roberto Cavalli and a new one begins. The Italian luxury fashion label opened a new chapter on Saturday at Milan Fashion Week, by showing for the first time without Roberto Cavalli himself. The 74-year-old designer sold the brand he founded in the 1970s to Italian investment fund Clessidra this spring.

Norwegian designer Peter Dundas (formerly with Emilio Pucci) took over, while a new management team is steering the label. Roberto Cavalli now owns a 10% share of the stock, and acts as 'consultant' and 'spiritual guide'. 

New look Roberto Cavalli, Spring/Summer 2016. - © PixelFormula

"We wish to respect Cavalli's brand image, while at the same time renewing it. It's not a question of turning everything on its head, but of strengthening Cavalli's already solid positioning in the luxury segment, and chiefly making up for lost ground, especially with those buyers who left the brand over the years. We must freshen up a brand which has somewhat aged" explained new CEO Renato Semerari to FashionMag during the show.

At any rate, if the label's new owners wanted to signal a marked break, they succeeded. Featuring easy little outfits and denim sportswear, leggings and contour-hugging short dresses, the first Roberto Cavalli collection by Peter Dundas didn't fail to generate a wave of shock. Radically rejuvenated and minus its glamour evening dresses, the collection appeared unrecognisable.

This strategy was dictated by the new management, as Renato Semerari pragmatically underlined: "The relaunch goes through two phases. The first is to strengthen the brand both geographically, where we are already present, and product-wise. Until now there was a wealth of evening wear. We're now going to complete the range with day wear." The objective is to freshen up the label's other lines too, from Just Cavalli to Cavai Class.

Peter Dundas at the end of his first show for Roberto Cavalli - © PixelFormula

The second step for Roberto Cavalli will be the expansion phase, chiefly in Asia and China where, with its top line, it is present with one store only, but also in the USA, where Cavalli operates 10 mono-brand stores. The expansion phase will touch upon other product categories as well, with a focus on accessories.

"The challenge is breaking with the past but staying consistent with the brand's history and image. We must find the right balance," summarised Francesco Trapani, former Bulgari boss and now a partner of the Clessidra investment fund and president of the Cavalli group.

Last year, the luxury label from Tuscany achieved €209.4 million in revenue, recording a 4.2% increase. As of 31st December 2014, the total number of mono-brand stores (directly-owned and under licence) reached 190: 90 Roberto Cavalli (41 of which directly-owned), 54 Just Cavalli, 28 Cavalli Class and 17 Roberto Cavalli Junior.

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