If you imagine Roberto Cavalli’s estate in Florence to be filled with baroque animal-printed thrones, empty limoncello bottles hidden in tiki torches by the outdoor pool, animal-printed bedspreads, a small monkey Cavalli kisses on the mouth, and dinner-table ornaments like bedazzled crabs and seashells, why you’d be correct! W magazine sent a reporter to dine with Cavalli and his big Italian family and spend the night in the leopard-spotted guest bedroom. Her findings:
At Casa Cavalli there are enough animals, real and simulated, to rival the Serengeti. On the patio four parrots shrieked in their cages, recalling a medieval torture chamber. Cavalli keeps a miniature monkey (he has been known to kiss it on the mouth) and a giant, coddled Persian cat. “Do you know the name of my cat?” he asked. “Pussy! It doesn’t mean what you think — I am much more clean — but I tell you, she is very sexy!”
Cavalli, who has five children, is a man who is very much in touch with his feminine side.
“I never understand why God give the possibility to have children just to woman,” he continued, clutching theatrically at his belly. “Oh, my God, my dream would be to have a baby!”
But this introspective European quality is not to be confused for homosexuality. He told reporter Lauren Collins about the first woman he became infatuated with at the age of 10.
Last year, he said, he was watching a television show that reunited contestants with people from their pasts. “Sometimes I think I would like to be on that show,” he mused dreamily. “The long black hair! The skirt down to here, with flat shoes. I remember what kind of bra she use! Is my first erection!”
Cavalli, who is 70, did get into a bit of his business matters, all of which he conducts on one of the many 15-year-old Nokia cell phones he bought on eBay that are each “the size of a shoe.” Of his 40th-anniversary show at Milan Fashion Week this past season, he said, “I will invite the other designers, but they won’t come — they are all shit.”
“To keep up with the tamtam of fashion” — he mimics a drumbeat — “we need help from stylists. For Armani, is enough to change one lapel on one jacket. From us the people expect new design, new style, new way to attract the new boyfriend.”
Cavalli revealed that when he is not partying like Usher with Queen Rania of Jordan or hanging out in the bachelor pad annex to his estate that includes a D.J. booth, he works on writing a memoir.
“I don’t know what to write in the last 15 years,” he said. “What model I have in my fashion show? I have so many dreams,” he continued. “I design an unbelievable rubber boat. And I was thinking, with this big dinghy, maybe to arrive in India by myself.” You must be joking, I had replied. Cavalli took a drag on his cigarette and looked me in the eye. “How much you bet?”
Why would a man who so openly mouth-kisses his monkey and discusses his desire to give birth over a table set with pasta and bedazzled crabs not also seriously talk of sailing to India by himself on a rubber, probably animal-printed boat? What is surprising about any of that?