Perched on the hilltop of a breathtaking medieval monastery outside of Florence, Paul Surridge made his confident men's debut for Roberto Cavalli, where he was appointed Creative Director just over a year ago. With mostly a menswear background pre-Cavalli, this felt like home turf for the designer. Updates to the house's signature animal prints among other innovations signaled that Surridge was opening up Cavalli to new customers and new ideas. We caught up with the designer backstage to talk about the importance of showing at Pitti, the evening's surprise guest, and what he's bringing to Cavalli Men's.
What is the significance about showing here at Pitti for you?
For the brand, it's a homecoming. We started in Florence, we're a 48-year-old company and we wanted to reactivate the menswear. So Florence just made perfect sense. The company is here, our home, our roots. It just felt like it was the instinctive thing to do.
And what about this exact location (Certosa di Firenze)?
I had seen a few locations. It's like when you go into a home, a rental, and think, "I could live here." I came here and I just thought, it was just so instinctive. It's a place of status, a place of discipline. A higher being. It's a controlled space, very Florentine. A lot of order, a lot of discipline.
Is that something you're trying to bring to Cavalli Men's? Order? Discipline?
I just like the idea of what I was working on to have this surreal collage of past, present, and future all in one square.
A lot of supporters here today for your first men's outing, but Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, turned the most heads, is he a friend?
He was just in Florence for holiday and he wanted to come and say hi, which [was] an honor! Luckily, I had two Apple iPhones in my pocket.