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My City_My Life

Interview: Roberto Cavalli

  • Story Highlights
  • Fashion designer Roberto Cavalli speaks about his hometown, Florence
  • The Italian city is famous for its Renaissance works of art
  • Cavalli cites Florence as an inspiration for his colorful clothes
  • He says he feels most free when flying his helicopter above the city
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FLORENCE, Italy (CNN) -- Never one to follow the crowd, fashion designer Roberto Cavalli's clothes are bright, sexy and fearless. His innovative techniques, especially with leather and silk, and his love of adornment -- embroidery, applique, patchwork and diamante -- have made him the A-list's red-carpet darling.

Designer Roberto Cavalli in Florence

Designer Roberto Cavalli in Florence

My City, My Life spoke to Cavalli about his fashion creations, his inspiration and his city of Florence.

CNN: What do you feel passionate about?

Roberto Cavalli: I'm passionate to be a fashion designer, because fashion is part of our life. When you wake up in the morning you say, "What do I have to wear to look beautiful, fantastic, sexy, special?" Fashion is our mind. That is the reason I love being a fashion designer because I can use it to measure your mood, your life. I love being a fashion designer.

CNN: What's so special about Florence?

Roberto Cavalli: Florence is such a special city. I travel a lot, today I am here, tomorrow maybe in London or Paris or New York. New York is a city where I feel more excited, sometimes I say New York is like a drug it gives you so much energy, but afterwards I need Florence, I live to come back here. I need to continue to breathe art, the air that is in Florence, to walk in my city, to walk in my streets. It's so charming -- Pitti Palace, the Ponte Vecchio, Michelangelo's David. That is Florence. I love it.

My City_My Life
Each month CNN visits the world's coolest cities with the celebrities who know them best.

CNN: How has the city inspired you?

Roberto Cavalli: Florence has helped me to judge what is beautiful, what is less beautiful, gave me the feeling of art. Florence and art is something that is part of my life and is part of myself.

CNN: What do you love most about the city?

Roberto Cavalli: What I love most about my city is the architecture, the buildings. Every time I discover something new and something different. The color of the stones, for example: I say, "Oh my God, that stone is 700 years old; 700 years ago America doesn't exist." It's something so special.

CNN: Do you think that the architecture, the surroundings, inspire you?

Roberto Cavalli: Sure, because to live in Florence means to breathe art and my collection, my fashion, why it's so unusual, so colorful. My dream, maybe because of my family of course, was to be a painter. I chose in one moment the direction of textiles; from textiles I went to fashion; but for me, I make one fashion show, it is like making one art exhibition. I would like the people that buy my clothes to understand that for me it's one small piece of art.

CNN: Have you seen Florence change since you were young?

Roberto Cavalli: Everything has changed, all over the world. I believe Florence has changed less than many other cities because we are more conservative, we try to keep everything that is fantastic, everything that is unbelievable, in Florence. In the next 1000 years we need to take care about the beauty and the fantastic things that are in Florence.

CNN: What are your favorite colors?

Roberto Cavalli: It depends on my mood. Sometimes it depends on where I am, sometimes I adore and love red, sometimes the yellow when I am in the country because the yellow that is with the green and around me I say, "Fantastico!" I love the turquoise when I am in my boat and around me you have the light blue, the dark blue, and I say, "My God, I love this special turquoise combination." I love the combination of colors. Color is my life.

CNN: Where do you go to relax?

Roberto Cavalli: Florence for me is my relaxing place. Also there is my factory, I have all my workers, some workers for 25, 40 years -- they love me, I love them -- but this is my relaxing place. My office, my first factory, my house -- the greenness of my house, my animals. I love my animals, they are all my babies. I love being here, being outside to read, I have music all over here.

The winter, Florence is a city where we don't see the snow so much. I love to appreciate the changing of colors, the brown to red of the autumn, I love the beginning of the spring, I love to see the small flowers in the cherry trees and I can see day-by-day the difference. I like to appreciate how nature is born again. See Cavalli's Tuscan farmhouse

CNN: Where else do you like to go?

Roberto Cavalli: I am a helicopter pilot. Something that gives me pleasure sometimes is taking my helicopter to go high, 2000 meter, 6000 feet, to go there and feel like a bird. In this moment I feel free. I feel in this world and life we've lost our freedom, maybe because we are too confused about the politics, maybe confused about the television that washes your brain. I love to be there flying. To feel that in the moment I move my clutch I feel like I move my wings.

CNN: Is there anything about Florence that you would like to change?

Roberto Cavalli: No, no, no absolutely nothing has to be changed in Florence. Florence is beautiful like it is.

CNN: Where do you think your self-belief comes from?

Roberto Cavalli: If you want to be successful, you have to believe in yourself. When you are not sure, you show weakness. To be strong you have to show your power, not your muscle power but the brainpower, the character of your heart. If you shoot people with the energy of your mind you become something special.

CNN: You're famous for having collections that celebrate women. What kind of woman do you design for?

Roberto Cavalli: I don't like to speak sometimes about beauty. I love to speak about feminism: I love to speak about a woman with a lot of personality. That is my woman. A woman that loves to show you how intelligent she is. I love women. Maybe I am the only man in the world who says the woman is stronger than the man, the woman has more personality in the world than the man, because the woman is my muse. I don't have one muse. All the women are my muse.

CNN: Do you think you are a typical Florentine?

Roberto Cavalli: Yes, I think I am a typical Florentine.


CNN: Why?

Roberto Cavalli: Because I'm a crazy artist!

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