By  on July 21, 2005

NEW YORK — Roberto Cavalli's work ethic has slightly changed since his early design days in the Seventies.

“I used to always design with very loud music and a bottle of whiskey,” Cavalli recalled over a sole meunière and a glass of red wine at La Goulue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. “Now, alcohol isn’t a part of it anymore. But I sometimes like to sit at my computer at night with a cigar and a vodka.”

Daytime boozing may no longer be part of the creative process, but Cavalli still manages to have a lot of fun with fashion. Last month, the Florentine designer inked a deal with Playboy Enterprises to redesign the legendary bunny costume.

He is in New York this week to present his newest venture, Roberto Cavalli Vodka. At $60 per 750-ml. bottle, the product is positioned at the ultrapremium end of the vodka price range. Cavalli hopes to make it a main attraction in bars and nightclubs in the U.S. this fall.

The idea to venture into the spirits business came to him by chance after showing his wife, Eva, an empty prototype of his namesake perfume bottle.

“She said, ‘It’s fantastic, what’s in it, vodka?’ and I thought, I like that idea,” Cavalli said. “All the best ideas always come by accident.”

After meeting a distiller from Italy’s Piedmont region, he decided to give the wines and spirits business a try, and began developing the vodka and designing its bottle.

The vodka uses fine Italian grains from the valleys on the Po River and pure water from the peak of the Monte Rosa. Before being bottled, it is filtered through crushed Italian marble, which helps reduce its acidity.

“It’s so pure, so smooth and without that alcohol smell,” Cavalli said.

He drew inspiration from his perfume for the vodka bottle. It is sandblasted with a snake coiling around its frosted glass body.

“I designed a beautiful bottle, one that a fancy nightclub would understand,” Cavalli said. “Today, people want new things. If you order a Cavalli vodka in a club, you will want to take the bottle home.”

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