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Peter Dundas Leaves Roberto Cavalli After 3 Seasons

The industry's game of creative director musical chairs continues.
Peter Dundas takes his final bow after Roberto Cavalli's spring 2017 show in September. Photo: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images 

Peter Dundas takes his final bow after Roberto Cavalli's spring 2017 show in September. Photo: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images 

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Peter Dundas's sexy, patchworked, boho spring 2017 Roberto Cavalli collection was his last for the Milan-based fashion house. Just a year and a half after being tapped to replace the house's namesake as creative director, Dundas's departure was announced by Roberto Cavalli Group on Wednesday morning.

"On behalf of Roberto Cavalli and our shareholders, we thank Peter Dundas for his contribution to the brand, and we wish him well for his future," said CEO Gian Giacomo Ferraris in a statement.

"I want to thank Roberto Cavalli and the Group for this valuable experience and I wish them the best in their future endeavors," said Dundas. "I am especially grateful to the ateliers and the teams who participated in this adventure."

It was a pretty short adventure, which began with a very '80s spring 2016 debut that was met with mixed reviews. For his subsequent collections, he's veered more towards a glamorous, '70s-hippie aesthetic, infused with Cavalli signatures like animal print and sexy silhouettes. Dundas was poached from Emilio Pucci to breathe new life into Roberto Cavalli, where he had previously served as head designer from 2002 to 2005.

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The appointment coincided with a major change in ownership and leadership at Roberto Cavalli, which was acquired by private equity firm Clessidra S.p.A. last April. Clessidra then appointed former Coty president Renato Semerari as CEO; but in July of this year, Semerari left and was replaced by former Versace CEO Gian Giacomo Ferraris. At the same time, it was announced that Roberto Cavalli's president since the acquisition, Francesco Trapani, would be leaving effective Sept. 10.

"As Roberto Cavalli goes through a period of transformation, the design team will carry on and the appointment of a new creative director will be made in due course," added Ferraris.

It's a period of transformation for a lot of top houses right now, with Saint Laurent, Lanvin, Dior and Valentino under new creative leadership and Versus Versace and Brioni without any as big luxury brands struggle to modernize and stay relevant in a rapidly changing fashion and retail landscape. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out, and where Dundas might take his talents for print, sexy red carpet dressing and socializing with models and celebs, next.

Update 10/12: Dundas's exit was just the first move in a total reorganization of the company led by Ferraris, set to begin in the coming days. Roberto Cavalli announced later on Wednesday that it will relocate its headquarters from Milan to Florence; will close, relocate and sell its stores; and eliminate 200 positions (the company employs 672 people total). The goal is to return the company to profitability by 2018.

"The fashion industry is facing uniquely challenging times, with changing consumer demands, significant contraction in various key markets and fundamental transformation in the industry's dynamics. In this environment, only iconic brands with a coherent business model and an efficient organization can survive," said Ferraris in a statement provided to both publications. "After my initial examination of the company I believe the Cavalli brand has what it takes to succeed. But the reality is that the company's costs must be in line with its revenues and that is the task we now have to embark upon."

This post was updated to attribute Ferraris's and Dundas's statements to a release provided by the brand and include information about the company's planned reorganization.

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