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Roberto Cavalli Closes US Stores

This Story is About How I Started Suspecting Roberto Cavalli’s State of Affairs Went Wrong and What It Led To

It’s time for a tearjerking story that leads to an unexpected conclusion.

When I studied in Florence, I had my favourite place to take some sips of cappuccino with a gentle swirl of melted chocolate laying on the cloud of air milk foam, and grab some typical Italian pastries with chocolate and custard you could sell your soul for. I suppose, we all have some kind of places we would be willing to come back over and over again, no matter how many times have passed. Giacosa – a bar belonged to Roberto Cavalli and his eponymous company – this was a place my heart belonged to within four years of my «Russian-living-in-Italy» in Florence. I was meeting my friends there, I was preparing for exams there, I was bringing my ex-boyfriend (or plenty of them) to take me something delicious, and – that’s the most outstanding in the memory of a girl who always wanted to touch unattainable – I saw Roberto Cavalli himself sitting on the table and spending time with his family.

I will never forget the first time I saw him. For me, as for girl living a dream to become someone more than I’m now, and the one who has never seen «status» human being, a meeting with him appeared to be as a lightning strike, even considering the fact I appreciated neither of his collections for extra exaggerated glamour vibes and pretentious usage of animal prints (that now I personally keep in my heart in a small dozen). Especially, after being in Paris and walking past his flagship store windows displaying a huge – almost my height (consider, I’m 173cm) – teddy bear made of real fur and priced more than my own life that seemed too outrageous to me.

Cafe “Giacosa”, Florence

But, sorry, I got destructed. Despite the distaste I feel towards Cavalli’s clothes itself, the first meeting Cavalli himself became something crucial and even magical for me. When you see a person you mostly noticed everywhere in magazines and internet, out of real life, and now you observe him your own eyes sitting two tables apart from you – is such kind of disbelief this happened to you. Repeat, I’m a simple girl born in the Middle of Nowhere (Kamchatka, google it) and never seen someone as such famous as probably Roberto Cavalli. Now, pulling this memory out of my memory I feel ridiculous as I saw Her Highness Rihanna, not a famous Italian designer.

But memories aside, let’s come back to what my thoughts were forwarded to. After one year and a half leaving Florence, I come back for one day keeping in mind an intention to visit my cherished spot with my mom and imagining me eating the most delicious la sfoglia in the world, and… What do I see?

It implied that Giacosa has never existed at all, an eponymous Cavalli flagship store located alongside the cafe was shifted by Giorgio Armani, the terrace along with tables vanished, and nothing could even recall of the famous cafe being adorned to visit both by locals and tourists. From my old friends living in Florence, I discovered Cavalli cafe was closed due to unprofitability of the company to run a business there and the amount of debts Cavalli can’t deal with. It became the first wake-up call led me to think about the future of Roberto Cavalli as a fashion brand.

On March 31, Business of Fashion dropped breaking news on Roberto Cavalli closing its stores on Friday and liquidating North America operations. An official brand statement confirms it was seeking a deal with creditors to stave off a bankruptcy filing after the departure of its creative director, Paul Surridge. Now, Cavalli’s intentions are to file a plan with Italian courts that would allow the business to keep running while it secured new investors or ownership. After many years of success among celebrities including Beyonce for who Cavalli created costumes featuring The Mrs Carter World Tour, and Miley Cyrus for her Bangerz Tour; the brand started falling from the favour of his most loyal fans in recent years, generating a decrease of the annual turnover and struggling to maintain its sales on a sufficient level to stay afloat. It appeared Roberto Cavalli couldn’t compete with other major conglomerates dominated the global luxury market.

On Friday, the Italian fashion house unceremoniously shut its doors to all of its US stores. According to Business of Fashion report, security guards ushered employees out of the existing stores, 93 people left without their work in just a second, but promised that all the wage will be paid out (should we trust it?). The label closed seven full-line stores and a few off-price outlets in total in preparation to liquidate its North American operations, while the CEO of Cavalli Salvatore Tramuto has resigned from his position. The e-commerce direction will be suspended as long as the brand finds a new source of investments and patronage.

Since Cavalli himself dropped the business four years ago, the brand appeared to increase its turnover on the exec side. Peter Dundas who was keeping a creative director position for 19 months after Cavalli’s retirement, turned the label into a brand new philosophy, making it unrecognisable even for the most loyal fans (I remember we studied this case during our retail management lesson). His successor Paul Surridge left after less than two years. His decision to leave was officially posted on Instagram: “I have given much consideration to this decision and reached the conclusion that the mission I have signed on has changed and enters a new direction with a new perspective,” the statement announces.  “I now wish to focus on other projects that I put aside in order to achieve our common goals with Roberto Cavalli Group.”

Setting aside anticipation to Cavalli as a brand, on the whole, I’m totally interested in keeping eye on the situation development and latest updates. Will the iconic Italian fashion house survive in the competition among more powerful and impactful companies, or it will be shamefully declared bankrupt, gradually forgotten as it happened to Schiaparelli someday witр no chance to get to live again. I hope, this story won’t face un unhappy-end.