Cavenati, who died Oct. 18, is survived by her parents, brother and life partner Marco Capaldo, with whom she founded 16Arlington in 2017.
Known as Kikka to her friends, Cavenati — who was born in Italy and spent her formative years in Vienna — quickly established herself as one of the most prominent young names in London’s fashion scene, alongside Capaldo. Their fun, unpretentious take on glamour quickly turned 16Arlington into a go-to label for the party set and a commercial and critical success.
The duo met by chance the evening before starting their design course at London’s Istituto Marangoni, and quickly became inseparable.
They launched 16Arlington soon after they graduated — naming it after their near-derelict London apartment on Arlington Street. The industry almost instantly gave it a thumbs-up, with retailers including Net-a-porter and Matchesfashion selling the label from its first seasons, and myriad celebrities opting for the brand’s intricate sequin and feather creations on the red carpet.
Stars and socialites including Rita Ora, Lena Dunham, Amal Clooney, Emma Corin, and Kendall Jenner have all worn Cavenati’s and Capaldo’s designs over the years.
Their presentations were always a highlight of London Fashion Week. They were joyous affairs, with music, dancing and feel-good designs that always featured some form of embellishment or bold pattern that couldn’t help but make attendees smile.
Just before the COVID-19 outbreak last year, the duo staged their first catwalk show on Valentine’s Day, with Lena Dunham — who like many in the industry, was attracted by the down-to-earth attitude and infectious energy of the duo — closing the show.
During lockdown they kept going, tweaking their approach with more easygoing fabrics, delving further into photographic research, designing a new bridalwear range, and presenting new collections over Zoom.
They always generously offered their time to the press, expressed a positive outlook about the future, and talked about their ever-growing community of women who came to the brand for clothes which they described as “designed for a good time.”
“As a brand, we’ve always felt strongly about including all women as part of the conversation,” Cavenati told WWD in a recent interview.
In the statement her family said: “The word ‘special’ feels insufficient to assign to the forcefield of optimism, passion and kindness that was Kikka, but it is undoubtedly the most direct route to capturing her. Kikka was a white light; an unmistakable energy and the most encouraging, fiercely loyal friend. That the 16Arlington studio will no longer ring with her wicked laughter and boundless appetite for creativity is a tragic loss to all those lucky enough to know her. She will be forever missed.”
Her creative spirit will continue to live at the heart of 16Arlington, according to the statement, and Capaldo is planning to present a collection in her honor in February 2022.