For years Eva stood at the helm of the Roberto Cavalli company, with her husband, helping to propel it forward as the head of design. Having helped navigate the fashion house through their ups and downs, including the brand's financial woes that have been in the press, Eva has a lot to be proud of - but she also has a lot to hope for in regards to the company’s future.
Photo by: Photo of Eva by Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh
On 17 July BAZAAR announced with speculation that the Roberto Cavalli brand was sold to Dubai-based property developer, DAMAC Properties. “I’m feeling very well [about the acquisition] and I look forward to meeting Hussain Sajwani, the CEO of the company", says Eva.
“The brand has always had a strong Italian aesthetic, particularly in highlighting the old Florentine artisans, especially in printing and embossing leather- this especially comes from Florence," she adds. "This craftsmanship has been the key to the success of our company and I hope this will continue.”
Her husband Roberto brought a different style to the brand when he introduced animal prints, a signature mark that the brand is still known for today. “We both love nature and animals, and we were successful in reproducing the skin of leopards and jaguars. Roberto was really involved in this. He travelled the world taking photos of animals and we reproduced animal prints in a particular way. He always says, ‘God is my biggest inspiration.’”
We began discussing the unique Italian aesthetic that the brand has, and I ask if the new Emirati acquisition will negate the authentic Italian roots of the brand. “No, I really hope the Italian culture stays at the heart of the brand," Eva tells me. "Other Italian brands like Gucci and Fendi are foreign owned too. What’s important is that the company keeps its Italian-ness.”
Austrian by birth, Eva grew up in the very small industrial town of Dornbirn, Austria. Having competed in and winning several beauty pageants, Eva soon found herself in a different world than what she grew up in, but one that would transition her into fashion, an industry she never aspired to go into as a child. “I grew up in Dornbirn and by accident I became Miss Austria,” remembers Eva. “It was at the Miss Universe Pageant that I met my soon-to-be husband, Roberto. We clicked immediately and as soon as I finished high school, I came to visit him in Florence with a girlfriend. She left and I stayed forever,” she laughed.
Eva with Russian supermodel, Natasha Poly
“Slowly, slowly I grew in everything.” Thinking to close the company in the late '70s, Roberto came close to actually doing it in 1993. “But he said, ‘what a shame, you are so young and so interested in fashion, I don’t want to close it because I want you to make your experience in fashion,’ recalls Eva. So, I said ‘ok’ and we had this idea of doing printed jeans because up until then we were doing printed leather pieces, which were really expensive. We basically started from nothing in 1994, we were running off of pure passion at that time. I always say the Cavalli company is like my 4th child.”
She hasn’t been directly involved with the company for some time. But likening the Cavalli company to her 4th child, she can never fully part with it. As the brand she and Roberto worked so hard to create moves forward Eva muses, “I want the company to come back to its splendour of older times before.” A smart and savvy woman, with an eye for style and a skill for design, Eva at 59 still has a lot of life left to live when it comes to fashion. “I hope that I can continue to express my views and to add beauty to the world,” says Eva.