Translated by
Nicola Mira
Mar 21, 2019
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Roberto Cavalli creative director Paul Surridge leaves

Translated by
Nicola Mira
Mar 21, 2019

Paul Surridge is about to leave Roberto Cavalli, for which he presented his last collection on the Milan Fashion Week catwalks on February 23. The British designer, the creative director for the Italian luxury label since May 2017, has decided to throw in the towel.

Paul Surridge at the end of his last show for Roberto Cavalli, in February - © PixelFormula

A source close to Roberto Cavalli confirmed to FashionNework.com the news, which was reported on Thursday morning by fashion trade journal WWD. The label did not wish to comment.

Surridge joined Roberto Cavalli at a troubled time for the label. In April 2015, Roberto Cavalli was bought by Italian investment fund Clessidra, after a subdued year beset by financial difficulties. In 2016, Roberto Cavalli appointed Gian Giacomo Ferraris as CEO, tasking him with relaunching the label and repositioning it as a major luxury brand. Surridge joined Roberto Cavalli a year later, as the label underwent a comprehensive overhaul.

“The project for which Paul Surridge was hired changed shape along the way. No investment followed [his appointment], as shown for example by the fact that the label’s leading stores have not been upgraded, and still feature the interiors concept developed by the previous Creative Director, Peter Dundas. Also, advertising investment was significantly reduced. As for the resources allocated to creativity, they were limited. Not to mention the catwalk shows which, through lack of resources, were not adequate to reposition Roberto Cavalli as a luxury label. In such a context, relaunching [the label] became truly impossible,” said the source to FashionNework.com.

Also, Surridge had been picked two years ago to orient the label in a direction that was different from the original aesthetic of its founder Roberto Cavalli, uber-glamorous, sexy and flamboyant. A strategy which undoubtedly made Surridge's work more complicated, and wasn’t always understood by the market.

Finally, the designer “is considering other offers and, to do so with peace of mind, it was better for him to leave Roberto Cavalli,” said the source, adding that “Paul Surridge isn’t for the time being about to finalise a new contract with another label, he is simply evaluating an offer.”

The creative director’s departure is part of a complex situation for Roberto Cavalli, whose revenue forecast for 2019 is to reach €155 million, and which has been hunting for new investors for several months. Roberto Cavalli’s sale by Clessidra is reported as imminent, and the unions are extremely concerned about the future of the company and of its 270 employees, chiefly based in Florence.

According to the latest rumours, US group Bluestar Alliance, which already features in its portfolio several US labels like Bebe, Catherine Malandrino, Tahari and Brookstone, is reportedly in pole position, having put a €100 million offer on the table. German designer Philipp Plein is also said to be in contention, backed by British private equity firm Blue Skye Investment Group.

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