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Roberto Cavalli Invites Florentine Mayor Matteo Renzi to Book Unveiling

Known for his colorful personality as much as his splashy sense of fashion, the designer knew just how to cause a stir on Monday.

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EVER THE SHOWMAN: Roberto Cavalli is known for his colorful personality as much as his splashy sense of fashion, and when it came time to present his autobiography, “Just Me,” to the Italian press on Monday, the designer knew just how to cause a stir: by inviting Florentine mayor Matteo Renzi.

Renzi, who at 38 is much younger than many of Italy’s silver-haired politicians, is widely viewed as the frontrunner in the election to lead the country’s Democratic party, and his appearance alongside Cavalli in Milan sent local photographers into a feeding frenzy, with flustered p.r. mavens shouting, “Basta!”

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Cavalli appeared to enjoy the excitement, observing: “I never lacked creativity, not just in fashion, but also in my approach to life.” As a young Florentine citizen, he learned English, he noted, by flirting with foreign students in the city’s Piazza della Signoria, and subsequently built a successful international business. He hoped his book would encourage today’s young Italians. “Get busy and don’t lose hope,” he said.

Renzi, meanwhile, asked to comment on the lack of style in Italian politics, said it had less to do with unfortunate wardrobe choices or off-color remarks on television than with politicians’ tendency to “discuss endlessly and not achieve anything.”