NEW YORK — When Columbus discovered America, he didn’t even know where he was, so the audience at the Columbus Day parade on Monday will have to be forgiven if they didn’t know Roberto Cavalli.
“Who is that guy?” asked one woman after another as Cavalli made his grand entrance as Grand Marshal on Fifth Avenue at 45th Street shortly after noon.
He waved and blew kisses as he straddled the bucket seat of a teal Alfa Romeo Spider convertible flanked by 20 models wearing the fall Cavalli collection and clutching onto the backs of 20 Ducati motorcycle drivers as they made their way uptown. Behind them read a giant banner, “Roberto Cavalli,” and behind that were Cavalli’s wife, Eva, his son, Daniele, and his daughter, Christiana, in the back of a green Lincoln Continental.
“Who is he?” asked another woman from the crowd, to which Heather Magidsohn, a publicist for the designer, responded, “Roberto Cavalli.” With an impressive flourish, she added, “Fashion designer to the stars.”
“I think I have a pair of his shoes,” the woman said.
On the next block, a young man ogling the models blurted out, “Look at that hot girl.”
“She’s not Italian,” his girlfriend retorted with an elbow to the stomach.
Cavalli was the first designer to lead the annual holiday parade, this year featuring 35 floats, including an odd statue of Columbus and another carrying this year’s Miss Columbus Day, who hails from New Jersey. Previous marshals have included cultural icons with Italian heritage — Luciano Pavarotti, Frank Sinatra, Sophia Loren and Franco Zeffirelli.
Alfred Catalanotto, the parade chairman, defended Cavalli’s selection from his perch on a golf cart that sped ahead of the parade.
“What is Italian?” Catalanotto asked. “Food and fashion. And I don’t know if it’s necessarily in that order.”
As the parade got under way, Cavalli said a strange feeling came over him. At Saks Fifth Avenue, he encouraged the Ducati drivers to rev their engines, which they did. He did it again after he hopped out of his car to greet Cardinal Egan at St. Patrick’s, and again, inexplicably, in front of a synagogue, and an encore at the corner of 57th Street at the construction site for Louis Vuitton’s new store, which currently features a billboard with its Jennifer Lopez campaign.“Let’s rev it up for Jennifer,” he yelled.
His family began a chant of “Roberto, Roberto, Roberto.” People in the crowd saw the Ducati procession and yelled “Italia, Italia, Italia.” Fur protesters dashed alongside the route, yelling, “Fur pimp.” Cavalli blew them kisses, too.
At last, as the parade neared its completion at 68th Street, someone recognized the designer. New York Sen. Hillary Clinton was introduced to him and said, “Oh, I know the Cavalli style so well.”
“Oh, you should come and visit me in Florence,” he replied. She did not immediately accept his invitation.
“I don’t know exactly what it means to be a Grand Marshal, but I’m proud to do it,” Cavalli said, wearing a big sash. “I loved every moment of this. I sat there, thinking, ‘I’m Italian. Oh my God, I’m Italian.’ It’s a very strange feeling. We can be proud to be Italians. When I say I live between Florence and New York, it is because Florence is the capital of art and New York is the capital of reaction, and I like that mix. That’s what completes its perfection.”
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast