Fashion tycoon Cavalli reveals nature inspiration

Roberto Cavalli - Photo: Pixel Formula
MILAN, Nov 18, 2010 (AFP) -Italy's glamorous fashion tycoon Roberto Cavalli on Thursday opened an exhibition of photos taken in his spare time, saying he got his inspiration from the world of nature.

"I've loved taking pictures all my life," Cavalli, wearing tinted sunglasses, a black jacket with jeans and a grey scarf, told AFP in the halls of the Palazzo Morando in the heart of Milan's fashion district.

The exhibition, which runs until December 12, marks the 70th birthday of the leathery entrepreneur whose extravagant designs and animal-skin prints have become synonymous with a new type of brash and kitsch Italian fashion style.

"I've started taking pictures during my trips around the world all the time -- a scene, the red of a glass of a wine, a reflection in the sand," he said.

"The connection is my imagination," added the tycoon, who has shocked the fashion world with famously extravagant designs such as leopard-print and patchwork.

"Fashion has become too industrial, too commercial. It doesn't allow for imagination any more.... You have to think about selling it," he said.

But with photography, he added: "I can do crazy things."

The exhibition, entitled "Black Is Not Always Absolute," reveals Cavalli's fascination with nature and animals -- a major source of inspiration for him.

In some of the snaps, Cavalli can be seen petting monkeys and dolphins. In others, he takes pictures of desert landscapes, flowers and fish.

"I always say that God was the greatest designer. I prefer copying the clothes that God created for tigers or leopards," he said.

At the age of 70 the fashion designer, who was born into a family of artists in Florence in 1940, is determined to live as he always has "trying to make life the least boring possible" and says photography helps him do that.

"I never have an agenda. I can't say what I will be doing in two months, I can't know, I don't care. I hope that each day will give me a good idea in order to be able to invent with a camera things that have never been done."

Cavalli earlier this year celebrated 40 years in the fashion business with a star-studded gala event to unveil his spring/ summer collection in a massive showroom built for the occasion at Milan's historic Arco della Pace arch.

Last year he was however forced to cancel a showing of his Just Cavalli line after the luxury good company that owned the brand, Ittierre, entered bankruptcy proceedings under a mountain debt during the economic crisis.

Cavalli started out in Florence in the early 1960s.

He met his wife Eva at a Miss Universe contest in 1977 in the Dominican Republic, which she was attending as Miss Austria.

His clothes are available in more than 50 countries and there are Roberto Cavalli stores now in dozens of cities including Beirut, Dubai, Istanbul, Las Vegas, Mexico City and Taipei.

Mathieu Gorse

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