While studying at the Academy of Art in Florence in 1957, Cavalli decided not to become an artist, instead experimenting by applying painterly techniques to textiles in ways that had not been practised before. In the early 1970s, he invented and patented a printing procedure on leather, and he started creating patchworks of different materials. He debuted these techniques in Paris, immediately getting commissions from the likes of Hermès and Pierre Cardin. At age 32, he presented his first namesake collection at the Salon for Prêt-à-Porter in Paris. He brought it to the catwalks of the Sala Bianca of Palazzo Pitti in Florence, and later on those of Milano Collezioni, jeans made of printed denim, intarsia leathers, brocade, and wild prints. He then opened his first boutique in 1972 in Saint-Tropez.