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Cavalli Talks Go On

Designer Roberto Cavalli says he is still in talks with Italian equity fund Clessidra SGR SpA about selling stake.

MILAN — Roberto Cavalli said he met again on Tuesday night with Clessidra SGR SpA representatives, who laid out what he called an “interesting plan” for his fashion house — but declined to divulge details.

Cavalli is in talks with the Italian private equity fund to sell 20 percent of his company. But as the talks focus on more concrete details, the designer said a question mark continues to hang over his head as to whether selling is the right thing to do, especially in a downturn when company valuations are low.

“I’m attracted by the idea of having an interesting partner, but the price is very different,” said Cavalli, who stressed he will discuss the transaction with all of his family, including his five children. “This is a moment of change and one must organize themselves in a different manner. Business was much easier these past years, but today you have to push your workers to take things in a more constructive way and with more fantasy.”

He also revealed he is seeking a chief executive officer. His daughter, Cristiana Cavalli, is company president, but there isn’t a ceo.

As for his relationship with Just Cavalli licensor Ittierre SpA, which filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year, the designer admitted he will continue to work with the IT Holding SpA subsidiary since the license doesn’t expire until 2010.

During Milan Fashion Week in February, Cavalli told the press he wanted to take the Just Cavalli line in-house, citing delayed deliveries and behind-schedule production. The line generated annual revenues in 2007 of around 240 million euros, or $317 million at current exchange.

Convinced only his efforts will help Ittierre get back on track, Cavalli said he would personally address some of the 2,000 sale points that carry his secondary line. “I will personally call between 200 and 300 of the best stores to tell them that I’m involved and I will speak to the 400 [Ittierre] workers in Isernia” where Ittierre’s plants are, stressed Cavalli.

On a lighter note, Cavalli said he is ironing out a new project ­— his own fashion world Web site — that should be up by Christmas.

“I would like the world to be sweeter and there to be more love, and I’d like to transmit these values through my own Web site with blogs, live online appearances, pushing young designers,” said Cavalli.