438. November 4, 1966

1966 - l'alluvione di Firenze438. November 4, 1966

It is November 4th, but the year is 1966, 50 years ago.
The Arno river that usually flows quietly through Florence, has suddenly turned into an avalanche of mud and water flooding the streets of Florence, submerging, destroying everything in its path, threatening the very lives of the Florentines and their immense artistic heritage. We watched in disbelief as the water level kept rising metre by metre until it reached a depth of four meters.

It was 6:30 am on a Friday. I went early in the morning to my factory in Osmannoro as I was expecting a client to collect some pullovers that I had printed for him.

I handed him the goods and after a coffee he left for Bologna. A few minutes later he was back barefoot, his shoes in his hand. “We are surrounded by water… all the roads are blocked…” the sound of his voice in his distinctive Bolognese accent reaffirmed his alarm and added to ours.

We quickly moved the fabrics, the colours and anything else we could to to higher shelves. Then, together with my co-workers we tried to find a safer place.

The factory was flooded up to the roof. The colours we used in printing the fabrics ran in surreal patterns across the surface of the flood. Everything was destroyed. I had to start from scratch.

The next day the waters began to recede, leaving a devastated Florence in their wake. The landscape was transformed. Mud, coloured with slime, covered everything touched by the flood. Cars were stacked one upon another. There was debris of every description that the waters, in their fury, had carried along with them. But we had no drinking water, no electricity.

I wish to thank all those young people who, out of the kindness of their hearts, came to Florence from all over the world to help us out. It is thanks to them that the great artistic heritage of Florence was saved and restored. They seemed not to feel fatigue and always had a smile for everyone. We called them “The Mud Angels”

In one month my factory reopened! Work resumed in full swing. All the old clients were back and new clients arrived.  Enthusiasm was high!

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Roberto Cavalli Blog

Roberto Cavalli - Firenze 4/11/1966

Roberto Cavalli - Firenze 4/11/1966

437. Modern Times…

rc-cavalli-island437. Modern Times…

Browsing through your images and comments on Instagram I realize that there are 450.000 of you following me!  This to me is a great honour!  I enjoy reading your comments… finding out from where in the world you are writing.

This is a wonderful way for all of us to stay in touch with one another and share our different perspectives.  This is how we grow…

Many of you have grown up in the digital age and, although young, the Internet has already become an integral part of our daily lives.

I embrace technology, I like to surround myself with technological toys, playing with them as they morph into tools.   I want to be always up-to-date with the latest model,  the latest version.   I was one of the first to use digital photography, playing with Photoshop, creating patterns and combining the colours and hues of an expanding spectrum to create those designs that I later used in my prints.

I remember when the first portable DVD player with a built-in screen came out on the market… suddenly my endless flights became pleasant interludes during which I could watch those movies that the hectic pace of my work would otherwise not let me see.

I grew up in the analog era… the cameras had the ability to shoot only 36 pictures and then I had to change the camera roll and to see the results I had to develop the film!

I like technology… it makes our daily life easier…  one click is all it takes to connect with friends on the other side of the globe!

The Internet has definitely changed the lives of many of us, accelerating the processes that each of us had to follow to implement an idea, to create and share, to learn…

Using the Internet allows me to share with you my thoughts, my feelings… it allows a meeting of our creative minds… and all of this is fantastic!

Write and let me know how the Internet is changing your life…

Gotta go, I am being called for dinner…

Thanks for your friendship…

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435. I’ve always been strongly determined…

Roberto Cavalli435. I’ve always been strongly determined…

My classmate, Elena Mannini, later to become a great designer of theatrical costumes, was working as a stylist in Florentine knitwear at Motta Angora.  She was very creative, always looking for new ideas. She brought me some white pullovers and we studied some drawings together.  I then built some artisan print frames.

The first tests, the first results, were not so bad but we knew we could do better. The dyes were not the right ones, so many things did not convince me.  I’ve always been strongly determined and I never liked mediocrity.  I did not want to face my first real client with results I was not entirely happy with.

Finally, my stubborn tests were producing something different. When I was almost satisfied, I introduced my samples to the owner of the knitwear factory. He was very happy, and in the following days sales increased.

Soon the six metre table, that in the beginning I thought would be big enough, proved not big enough for the amount of work that I was getting.  I ordered a new one, twenty metres long.  

The printing house–garage–workshop where I started creating my own prints on fabric had outlived its usefulness so I decided to move to a new studio, in Via Tagliaferri, more suited to my ambitions for growth.

I hired two assistant, one was my former classmate, Grazia Catani, and the other was Tiziano Caldini, a fifteen-year-old boy from Greve in Chianti… Between the three of us we did not add up to sixty years of age. By uniting together we built a small printing industry based on jerseys. In fact, we had to grow and became more industrial so as to produce larger volumes more quickly.

What I knew about printing, however, was not enough. I had to deepen my knowledge on the subject and I decided to find new solutions and so began to visit other printing houses in Northern Italy.

Como, the Italian capital of textile printing, became my regular destination. The Highway connecting Firenze to Northern Italy was still under construction and the Florence-Bologna stretch almost non-existent.  In the meantime I had become the owner of a blue Fiat Cinquecento with red seats and so the trip to Como did not fatigue me – I was determined to succeed.  

To be continued…

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Roberto Cavalli Blog

Roberto Cavalli