MILAN — Roberto Cavalli named Sergio Azzolari its new chief executive officer, effective Sunday, on Thursday, continuing a streak in C-suite changes at Italian fashion brands.
“Finding the right partner to work with me to take Roberto Cavalli forward in our evolution has been a primary focus over the last several months, and I am thrilled that Mr. Azzolari is joining our talented team,” said owner Hussain Sajwani. “He’s a skilled business leader with a deep passion for the consumer and a sophisticated understanding of building global, omnichannel brands. This, combined with his collaborative working style, transformation experience and intense focus on results, will put us in a good position as we move toward the future.”
Azzolari was previously CEO of Dsquared2. Incidentally, Cavalli’s former general manager Ennio Fontana was named in the same role at Dsquared2 earlier this month.
Before Dsquared2, which he led for less than a year, Azzolari was general manager of Fay and Hogan, owned by Tod’s Group. He started his career at Benetton Group, balancing his fashion and retail roles with his professional rugby commitments. He then built his expertise holding executive roles at Missoni, Luxottica and Deckers Corp.
“Roberto Cavalli is one of the world’s greatest fashion icons and a brand I have admired for many years,” said Azzolari, touting the brand’s “tremendous potential” around the world, continuing “to build on 50 years of heritage and innovation,” and expressing his excitement “to lead the next phase of development for this great company with the team.”
Sajwani is the founder and chairman of the Dubai-based Damac Properties, and he owns Cavalli through his private investment company Vision Investments, which bought the company from Clessidra SGR in 2019.
The brand is designed by Fausto Puglisi, who joined the house in the fall of 2020, and has been increasing the visibility of the brand also through the slew of celebrities, from Jennifer Lopez and Dua Lipa to Lady Gaga and Gwen Stefani, dressed in Cavalli.
In October, Fontana told WWD that Cavalli was seeing growing sales, expected to total around 84 million euros in 2022, up from 57 million euros in 2021. No financial updates were available on Thursday, although the company said it has seen a high-double digit growth in sales year-on-year since the acquisition by Damac and through Puglisi’s designs.
In January, as reported, Sajwani reorganized the company’s managerial structure, naming three vice presidents with extensive experience in the fashion industry, signaling his commitment to the company.
Arnaud Bazin was appointed vice president, merchandising; Luigi Cantone was named vice president, commercial, and Michela Ratti, vice president, marketing. Bazin is a former Lanvin deputy chief executive officer who previously held executive positions at Versace, Dior and Chanel.
Cantone returned to Cavalli, as he was previously a commercial director at the brand under the former owner, Clessidra, reporting to then-CEO Gian Giacomo Ferraris. He also worked at Versace.
Ratti developed her career at Procter & Gamble, Swarovski and Ferragamo, among others.
Cavalli last fall inked a new five-year license with De Rigo for the design, production and global distribution of Roberto Cavalli and Just Cavalli eyewear collections to bow in 2023.
The brand’s previous eyewear licensing deal with Marcolin expired in 2020.
In September, the company formed a strategic partnership with Genny owner Swinger International for the production and wholesale distribution of the Just Cavalli sister line, which was managed under license until 2011 by Staff International, the OTB Group’s production arm.
More support is coming from Sajwani, whose property development company Damac is planning a 70-story residential building located on the Dubai Marina, overlooking the Palm Jumeirah, called Cavalli Tower and to be furnished with items from the Roberto Cavalli home division. Another tower is planned in Dubai, as well as one in Miami.