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FLORENCE, Italy — A bout of bronchitis isn’t enough to stop Rachele Cavalli from patiently posing under the scorching summer sun. Dressed in head-to-toe Roberto Cavalli, Rachele, 20, is every inch her father’s daughter — confident, sexy and overtly fashionable. From her mother, Eva, a former Miss Austria, come Rachele’s catlike good looks. Of course, that genetic setup also means that while she happily shuns any fitness routine, she still fits into any of dad’s skintight clothes.
“He really knows how to enhance a woman’s body,” says Rachele, proclaiming papa, naturally, is her favorite designer. “My father loves women and loves to look at them. He understands how they want to feel.” For his part, Roberto plays the quintessential protective Italian father, though he need not worry about his daughter donning the provocative, cheek-baring minidresses he sends down the runway. “Rachele is beautiful and has beautiful legs,” he boasts. “She does wear miniskirts, as long as they’re not too short.”
Rachele says she opts for the more sober looks — as sober as Cavalli can get. “I’m more at ease wearing jeans and a blouse,” she says. “When I get all decked out, if there’s a slit, it’s in the back, and I don’t wear anything too daring.”
Rachele is a true Cavalli when it comes to her heels, however. She only wears stilettos and admits that she owns at least 100 different pairs, mainly of her father’s design. Yet while dad is certainly a bit flamboyant, Rachele is serious-minded and poised. She even manages to make her dedication to the most sultry footwear seem reasonable instead of decadent. She started wearing heels after a motorcycle accident a few years ago left her right foot aching. “It may sound strange, but my heel hurts more if I wear flats because I flex the foot more,” she says. Her rebellion, fashion-wise, means vintage shopping, preferably in New York, where her family has an apartment and where she spent Christmas holidays growing up.
In Italy, Rachele spends weekends at the family’s restored medieval villa outside Florence with her parents and her two brothers, Daniele, 17, and Robin, nine. It’s there the luxe Cavalli look comes to life. The villa, surrounded by acres of olive trees, boasts two pools, a Roman-style sauna with marble columns and a menagerie that includes parrots, ducks, dogs and cats. Rachele talked her father out of buying a tiger.
“Our parents have a very strong sense of family,” says Rachele, who moved into a girly pink apartment in Milan two years ago complete with a canopy bed. “Hail or rain, we all flock back home, catch up on news, watch movies together, go for walks in Florence and meet around the table.”
However classically Italian those weekend gatherings may be, the fact that both parents spurred Rachele to leave the family home and seek her independence is not. Last year, she studied at the European Institute of Design, but realized design was not her calling. Now Rachele, who is fluent in English, German and French, is studying public relations at one of Milan’s universities. But while she won’t join the design team, Rachele does plan to work with her parents and her older stepsister Christiana, who is the company lawyer, to help expand the family business, hopefully starting out in one of its press offices.
“My parents ask for my advice,” Rachele says. “I guess I offer a younger point of view.”