Red Hot Cavalli

COURTESY ROBERTO CAVALLA

STRIDES: Cavalli's high-octane show is a highlight of Milan fashion week

David Beckham wears his animal-print tops and Mary J. Blige wears his dresses. His lush boutiques can be found in every major fashion capital. His company's slump-defying sales — from €67 million in 1999 to €206 million last year — are the talk of the industry from Milan to Tokyo. The easy explanation for the success of the house of Roberto Cavalli is that his sexually charged designs returned to the runway in 1994 — the perfect time to fill a missing niche in the then-minimalist fashion landscape. But the real reason for Cavalli's triumph is his wife....

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