Fausto Puglisi

MILAN — Roberto Cavalli has zeroed in on its new creative director, according to sources here, who believe Sicilian designer Fausto Puglisi has been selected for the job.

This isn’t the first time Puglisi’s name is associated with the brand, as he was rumored to join the company back in 2017, but Paul Surridge ended up nabbing the role, succeeding Peter Dundas.

Surridge exited last year, and the collections have been designed by an in-house team since then.

Things have changed this time around as Cavalli has a new owner, Hussain Sajwani, who is looking to relaunch the brand with the help of Puglisi, sources say.

While no comment was provided by the company and Puglisi wasn’t reachable at press time, hints of the tie-up emerged from the designer’s personal Instagram feed, with a series of throwback content, including looks from his namesake line heavy on animal prints, a staple of Roberto Cavalli’s fashion lexicon.

On Oct. 19, Puglisi posted a close-up image of a leopard roaring, flanked by the caption “Monday roar,” while in his Instagram Stories he shared a series of his creations accompanied by lyrics of Madonna’s tune “I’m Addicted,” including the “I’m ready to take this path” excerpt.

Last week, the designer also shared an old picture of Kim Kardashian wearing a Fausto Puglisi animal-print dress, dubbing it “My First Tiger was a Kardashian and I LOVE IT!” Comments under the image included one by Roberto Cavalli’s senior designer Nicolas Martin Garcia.

Born in 1976 in Messina, Sicily, Puglisi launched his namesake label in 2010. His aesthetic is rooted in sexy femininity and a bold, flamboyant approach to fashion, best embodied by his staple leather gladiator-inspired minidresses. Along with animal prints, vibrant patterns and Ancient Rome references, his collections blend nods to Baroque architecture with sharp tailoring and glam-rock elements, such as baroque sun embroideries and cross applications.

In addition to the stylistic affinity with the Roberto Cavalli brand, Puglisi could bring visibility back to the company with his ties with Hollywood stars and prime personalities of the music industry. During the years, supporters of his namesake line included Jennifer Lopez, Zendaya, Taylor Swift, Rita Ora, Kerry Washington, Priyanka Chopra, Hailee Steinfeld and Lucy Hale, among others.

In particular, Madonna played a pivotal role in the momentum of the Fausto Puglisi brand, as she asked Puglisi to design the outfits worn by singers Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. at the Super Bowl halftime show in 2012.

The same year, Puglisi was appointed artistic director at the French fashion house Ungaro, debuting on the Parisian catwalks in March 2013. He parted ways with the brand in 2017 and was succeeded by Marco Colagrossi.

As reported, last year Sajwani, the founder and chairman of Dubai-based Damac Properties, acquired the Roberto Cavalli company from Clessidra SGR through his private investment firm Vision Investments.

After the deal was completed, a tumultuous period of negotiations with Italian trade unions followed as the new owner revealed plans to close the label’s headquarters in Osmannoro — outside Florence — and move the company to Milan, which led to more than 100 out of 170 employees losing their jobs.

The company’s top management is also going through changes. As first reported last month by WWD, Gian Giacomo Ferraris is leaving his post as chief executive officer at the end of the year. The executive joined Cavalli from Versace in 2016, succeeding Roberto Semerari.

Former Philipp Plein executive Ennio Fontana has joined Cavalli as general manager, as WWD first reported on Oct. 5.

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