Fausto Puglisi Talks Custom Roberto Cavalli Coachella Looks for Anitta, Doja Cat, Karol G
The Italian house’s latest director speaks candidly on the power of music, his thoughts on Coachella culture, and what it was like working with music’s most dynamic newcomers.
What’s not to love about Coachella? From the music to the fashion, the overall good vibes atmosphere is enough to instill a sense of euphoria for each festival goer–and a bit of wanderlust for those tuning in from their phones. As each powerhouse musician made their mark on the Coachella stages, you may have noticed a trio of ultra-dynamic women who shut down their sets with each head-bopping track and bass-laden beat that echoed through the skies of California–Doja Cat, Anitta, and Karol G. Dominating a slew of some of their greatest hits, including energetic performances that dazzled audiences from the front row to back with each hip grinding dance move and surprise guest appearance, you may have noticed some of their eye-catching ensembles, created by none other than Fausto Puglisi for Roberto Cavalli.
After two media-shattering weekends in the desert, V’s Kevin Ponce speaks candidly with Puglisi about what it was like to create custom Cavalli concert looks that delivered unparalleled girl power for some of music’s brightest artists.
Kevin Ponce: You really embraced the Coachella fashion experience! What is it about the festival experience that inspired you to create so many pieces?
Fausto Puglisi: Coachella has always inspired me. One of my first collections, a resort collection I presented in New York, was inspired by Coachella. I believe in music! Music is one of my biggest driving influences and an obsession–it’s a drug for me. I believe in its way to unite and mix different cultures altogether. Music has the power to make people feel part of one dream. There’s something so democratic and beautiful, loyal and strong–Coachella is all about that! Dancing with the Swedish House Mafia and The Weeknd, everyone singing, sweating, there was something magical–Coachella and the desert is magic. In a moment where there is so much suffering, music is the way to make the people come together. Do you remember Madonna? It’s about freedom, it is a fearless dimension. Not judgmental, finally genderless–just beautiful and deeply human.
KP: What did you love about Coachella 2022 in particular?
FP: What I love about Coachella is this American message of unity–definitely, and hopefully, not bourgeoisie. I can see simple dreamers and the rock aristocracy all together and talking the same language. During Doja Cat’s performance, I was dancing by the stage with one of my best friends, Brett Alan Nelson, Doja’s stylist, and with Lizzo, Baz Luhrmann, Doja’s gorgeous bodyguards, and so many of her fans around–this was magic. It’s Coachella!
KP: In total, how pieces did you and the Cavalli team make for Coachella? Did you all have a lot of time to create the looks?
FP: Oh my god! I lost count, [because I’m] talking also about the dancers. These kinds of projects are about passion and a continuous dialogue with the artists themselves and their stylists. I started to work on these projects at the end of February and I was also working on the show in Milan at that time. I remembered [back to] when I worked on my first Superbowl, with Madonna, Nicki Minaj, and M.I.A. When [I was] asked to work on Coachella, I had the same beautiful feeling. It’s a responsibility in both the cases–we’re talking about huge events [that are] part of American pop culture. I love it!
KP: Did you meet with the girls before the shows to discuss their looks and see what they wanted?
FP: The time was too short, so no time to meet the girls personally but it was a beautiful dialogue from Milan to Los Angeles.
KP: Doja Cat’s look, in particular, was so special since she performed her biggest song ever “Say So” in that look. How did you want your custom Cavalli look to stand out amongst the rest of her looks since she changed so much throughout her set?
FP: I adore that song “Say So”–it is just gorgeous. What I like for a stage [design] is to create a dream but, at the same time, something every girl can wear. I can see girls wearing that bejeweled micro skirt and embellished bra in the streets of London, LA, New York, Miami, Singapore, or Mexico City–jumping out of their cars to go to a club and have fun. Doja Cat is pure power–trust me, she’s fire. She’s freedom! She’s such a great artist, she killed the stage Sunday night–she ate it! Doja slayed my look–she’s the force, she’s numero uno! I believed in her since day one, that’s why I created her look for the Grammys in 2021.
KP: Karol G’s look was so stunning and I loved the homage to Colombia. How important was it for her heritage and roots to show through the clothes? How did you help achieve this mix of Colombian flair with the Italian heritage of Cavalli?
FP: Thank you, Kevin–so glad you liked Karol’s look! [I was] so excited to have worked with Zerina Akers on it. I first met Zerina during one of my first projects for Beyoncé. Karol is amazing–she’s a force of nature. Colombia at the moment is living a beautiful renaissance. From Karol G to Maluma to J Balvin, they are all so cool! And what about Medellin? It’s fabulous, I can’t wait to go back. This is one of the reasons why I love Miami so much–you can breathe in the mix of northern and Latin American cultures living together, and I’m obsessed with it. I adore Colombian culture.
KP: What is exciting about the next-gen Colombian take over the world is seeing?
FP: What I like in this “new” Colombia is this fresh sense of pride, to escape and finally break all the old stereotypes and prejudices. Colombia is the new generation of beautiful, fearless, daredevil, and daring souls and visionaries. So many musicians and artists. The heritage of Cavalli, and my heritage as well, is about a deep dialogue between different cultures. I can dress Anitta and then [dress] Jessica Chastain. I can dress Doja Cat and then Zendaya, I can dress Karol G and then Naomi Scott or Tracee Ellis Ross, and then Jennifer Lopez. Music has no boundaries, and I feel I don’t have either. I can play classic and rock ’n roll, opera and techno, [just] trying to create my own language. The heritage of Cavalli, and my heritage as well, is connected to life, life, life! I want my fashion to be larger than life–I’m [just] loud and curious like a kid.
KP: Now, Anitta—who everyone loves! What is it about Anitta and her talent/personality that made you want to create all the custom looks?
FP: Anitta is the whole world! She’s such an inspiration and to be with her in a room is like driving a Lamborghini with the music blasting, at 200 km per hour. When we first met in LA, we talked so much about politics and shared our democratic ideals together. She’s bossy and beautiful, she’s my girl. I’m so proud of her! Please go see her performance–you’ll keep on shaking for the next 24 hours. She’s not afraid of people’s judgment and I love women fighting patriarchy. Women who do not need a mask to play [by] their rules. She’s strong, powerful, fearless, fierce–Anitta is Anitta. She can ask me whatever she wants, [she’s] my little sister.
KP: She’s been sporting a ton of looks during the Coachella weekends—How is the world of Anitta intertwined with the world of Cavalli? Do they share the same fiery spirit and flair for glamour and edge?
FP: Thank You, Kevin! Yes, absolutely. We share the same fiery spirit. Cavalli has an authentic Italian flair for glamour and edge. I’m so deeply Italian in all my choices and Anitta knows how to handle my “Italianity” very well.
KP: Overall, what does this trio of rockstars represent for you?
FP: Doja Cat, Anitta, and Karol G all represent feminine individuality and empowerment. It’s social revenge finally–they can get all they want! They are all fierce.
KP: There have been so many musical Cavalli moments lately—in what ways do you think Cavalli serves as one of the best houses to help these musicians reach their creative vision?
FP: I am music. My blood is music. Cavalli is music. Music breaks all the boundaries because it’s connected to emotions. It’s connected to your heart. Fashion is about emotion as well. My entire life is driven and surrounded by music. My first [job] ever was to dress Whitney Houston at the Grammys in 2001. I was so young, I remember my feelings [that day]—I was in heaven. Patti Wilson and Whitney Houston believed in me from day one. At the time, I was a waiter in New York. The day after, I found myself backstage at the Staples Center in LA attending my first Grammys ever with a true diva. Then [came] my work with Madonna, Katy Perry, and Jennifer Lopez. I started my collaboration with Roberto Cavalli just a year and a half ago [and] I’m so glad I put this brand back on track. From Hollywood gods to young cool club kids, I couldn’t ask more. Cavalli has always been like The Wizard of Oz–a magic castle where aristocracy and outcasts have always found the frock and the music they were looking for.