“No One Who Crossed Her Path Will Ever Be The Same”: Lena Dunham Pays Tribute To 16Arlington Designer Federica Cavenati, Who Has Passed Away Aged 28

After 16Arlington designer Kikka Cavenati's unexpected death, Lena Dunham remembers her friend and collaborator.

The first time I met my friend Federica “Kikka” Cavenati, it took me about 10 minutes to realise how beautiful she was. And that’s really saying something, because Kikka was nothing if not beautiful – shiny copper hair, massive Bambi eyes, the kind of pillowy lips that women pay a lot for, and perfect teeth with just enough character to be disarming. 

But that wasn’t what hit me first, because before all that – when Kikka threw her arms open to greet me, despite our never having met – what I noticed was her laugh. It was the kind of laugh that you might call a cackle if it wasn’t so sweet, but you also wouldn’t call it a giggle because it was too all-encompassing. She gave it generously – whether she was watching her dog Ralph act “girl crazy”, or helping you out of a pair of heels (because she never considered herself above getting down on the floor to perfect the line of an outfit, even if she had the bearing of a 1920s Italian aristocrat). Her laugh made silly things seem important and sad things seem funny and everything seem perfect. And her beauty, so easy to wax on about, paled in comparison to how beautiful she made other women feel. Not just the women she was designing for, but the women she met as she went about her day – everyone from the waitress to the design assistant to the mother of the bride. Kikka lived to help other women recognise their beauty, and that quality was inherent to her own.

Was. I’ve been told many times about the terrible cruelty of saying “was” about a vital person, a healthy person, a person who feels – in every conceivable way – present. But I’ve never felt that truth in the sharp way I do about Kikka. Her laugh – remembering it and celebrating it – has been one of the only ways to make sense of the fact that she passed away nearly three weeks ago. After a short and sudden illness – Kikka was a vibrant and present person who showed up to life with Olympic vigour, and she will not be remembered as sick – we lost Kikka at age 28. 

Kikka was, by trade, a fashion designer. Along with her partner in work and love, Marco Capaldo, Kikka founded 16Arlington, a label that has single-handedly redefined the spirit of London fashion and given style back its folly and joy. Kikka’s sense of play, combined with the rigorous skills of sewing, draping and fit that she and Marco honed when studying at the London arm of Istituto Marangoni, meant that she had a presence in her industry far beyond her years. Kikka loved fashion with a capital F – sherbet colours, luxe textures and the dissonance of casual-wear when paired with a pop of drama. She brought the old world hysteria of a Bob Mackie-era Cher together with a race-car sleekness, and even her perfectly fitting casual-wear – a leather shirt, a satin pant – was always possessed of a wild detail, like a comically large collar coming to a point, or a bow twisted from an unexpected material like leather or thick brocade.

This story originally appeared on: Vogue - Author:Lena Dunham