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Italian fashion icon

Roberto Cavalli discusses famous friends, fabulous women and… his dislike of hats.

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When it comes to fashion it doesn't get much more glamorous than Roberto Cavalli. At 71, the veteran Italian designer continues to dominate both the runway and red carpet with a celebrity client roster that includes Miranda Kerr, Nicole Kidman and Kylie Minogue.

“I've worked with everyone – there is no star who I've not dressed at one time or another," Cavalli said. "I chose Miranda for my [runway] shows before she was a big star and now we are very close friends. Kylie is so, so pretty and I've had many good dinners with Nicole.”

He is in Australia to launch a fashion range and attend Derby Day at the races on Saturday.

Roberto cavalli in Sydney to launch his latest designs for a Target collection. Photo: Edwina Pickles. Taken 30th Oct 2012.

Roberto Cavalli in Sydney to launch his latest designs for a Target collection. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Sporting his trademark black suit, sunglasses and a European perma-tan, Cavalli has a love for life belies his age.

“My inspiration is the woman. I like to spend my time with the young people. From young people I learn. I design for them – they help keep me in the moment.”

Famous for his use of wild prints and colour, Cavalli designs five ready-to-wear lines – Roberto Cavalli Woman, Roberto Cavalli Man, Just Cavalli, Class Roberto Cavalli and Roberto Cavalli Angels & Devils — making him one of the most successful designers in the world. Add to that a suite of fragrances and multiple diffusion deals, and the Florentine shows no signs of slowing down.

Roberto Cavalli in Sydney to launch his latest designs for a Target collection. Photo: Edwina Pickles. Taken 30th Oct 2012.

Cavalli with models showing off his Target designs. Photo: Edwina Pickles

He is in Sydney to launch a collection under the Designers For Target umbrella, a 42-piece range that includes everything from print bikinis to full-tilt glamour gowns.

“All over the world, I am stopped in the street and women say, 'I want to wear Cavalli but I cannot afford to.' I want for young Australian women to feel beautiful and give many girls the possibility to be happy with my dresses.”

The Cavalli For Target range goes on sale on Wednesday and the retailer is expecting consumer pandemonium similar to that of the Stella McCartney and Zac Posen sellout collections.

“The entry price is $49,” said Target Australia managing director Dene Rogers. ”We've made sure the range is sized correctly — eight through 16 – and spent a lot of money and time getting the fit right.”

Cavalli moves to Melbourne this weekend as a star guest in the Birdcage on Derby Day.

“The fashion will be interesting … good for me to understand the mentality of the Australian woman," he says. "You go to Ascot [England] and it's really amazing”.

Italian coffee giant Lavazza has remodelled its trattoria-style marquee for its fashionable guest. Its new version features sleek white furniture and walls and awnings adorned with bright pops of neon. Michelin-starred chef Alfredo Russo has been flown in from Turin to create an equally luxurious menu.

Cavalli is looking forward to the fashion at Flemington, except for the headwear.

“I don't like hats! I like the hair to be soft – why you want to cover the most beautiful part? It's like when a beautiful woman covers her beautiful eyes with a mask – why? I don't like them but don't tell anyone I said that.”