Cavallini Under the Covers

The Italian designer will launch his first book on legwear today.

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WWDStyle issue 03/07/2011

Italian designer Emilio Cavallini will launch his first book on legwear today. Titled “Emilio Cavallini” and published by Skira, an imprint of Rizzoli, the 200-page book features 250 black-and-white and color illustrations. Edited by Italian actress and model Benedetta Barzini, suggested retail will be $100 in the U.S. and $117 in Canada. Encased in a silver cover wrapped in the Cavallini brand’s signature open-work hosiery, the book’s cover emulates the designer’s point of view: “If I can make a woman wear tights, then I can make a book wear them too. The pattern on the cover was a best-selling tight. I think the reader will be surprised to see what hosiery has turned into,” said Cavallini.

This story first appeared in the March 7, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The book and its images are not simply about hosiery but also represent Cavallini’s passion for art and mathematics, said Barzini.

“He didn’t decide to have a book on stockings printed. He had developed the urge to transform the product he so successfully created over 30 years into a personal form of artwork.…The message he wanted to convey and share with the reader or art lover is that one can realize in life the evolution that time gives us, thanks to the acquired knowledge in one’s profession. The cover is the result of years of designing net patterns and the symbol of the link between past and present,” explained Barzini.

Cavallini said his love of fashion propelled him into designing legwear, and it became his creative outlet.

“I wanted to travel, to get to know the world. I was attracted by fashion; I saw it in the shop windows.…I ran off to swinging London, where things were going on that I had never seen or imagined, where inhibitions and ideas prospered…everyone was creating all sorts of things, but no one thought of giving life to hosiery,” Cavallini recollected. “I thought of proposing it to Mary Quant, and she greeted the idea with enthusiasm. Once, years ago, I was holding a photo of Marilyn Monroe. She was wearing fishnet stocking with a seam. What a magnificent sight. What stockings! What legs! From that time on my eyes always went to the legs.”

The ideas that Cavallini presented to Quant include stockings patterned in groundbreaking scale, colors and designs such as optical motifs, skulls, geometric fishnets, spots and dots, black and white, and a palette of fluorescent colors. In 1970, he founded Stilnovo SpA and the Emilio Cavallini brand. The company produces four million pairs of patterned and decorated legwear annually.

“In this book you will see how hosiery has transformed itself into a vehicle that has its own vitality,” said Cavallini.

The Italian Cultural Institute of New York and Skira will host a cocktail reception and book signing March 22 at Cappelini.

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