Lorenzo Riva (1938-2023)

Lorenzo Riva was an Italian fashion designer, best known for his wedding dresses. He was the creative director of Balenciaga in the ’80s, a pivotal experience in his career.


Born in Monza in 1938 to a mannequin, Riva became interested in fashion as a child. At the young age of 18, after his first fashion show, he opened his first atelier in Monza in 1956, and the press was soon singing his praises.

In 1972, he presented his collection at the Pitti Palace in Florence. This event was an important showcase that gave him an international dimension. Later, he moved to Paris where he collaborated with the most famous couturiers.


In the early 1980s, the designer became creative director of Balenciaga. This was a pivotal experience in his professional development.

Balenciaga Museum

Riva defined himself a couturier, the only one left in Italy after the passing of Renato Balestra. Although he appreciated Versace and Armani, in one of his last interviews, Riva pointed out that they are in the couture business and come from ready-to-wear, unlike him.

Riva spoke out against recent developments at Balenciaga and the creations of its new creative director Demna:

I cried when I saw that they were selling broken and punctured shoes with the Balenciaga label. Or when they paraded in the mud.

Wedding dresses

After his experience at Balenciaga, the designer returned to Italy in 1984, where he opened two ateliers with Luigi Valletti. He dedicated a collection to wedding dresses, which became his specialty and closed all his fashion shows.

Spring/summer 2012 collection

THE 1990S

1991 saw the presentation of the haute couture collection in Rome, and 1995 the presentation of the ready-to-wear collection at Milano Collezioni. In 1996, Riva presented his creations in New York, at the Cristinerose Gallery in Soho.

Many divas wore his clothes, from Isabella Rossellini to Penelope Cruz, from Chiara Mastroianni to Whitney Huston.


In 2012 the brand came under the control of the Italian holding company HdC, which is headed by entrepreneur Antonio Rosati. The goal of the transaction was to relaunch the brand.


The brand also opened a new store in Milan city centre, joining the boutiques in Via Carlo Alberto in Monza and Via Brera 7 in Milan.

In 2015, the Court of Monza declared the Lorenzo Riva brand bankrupt.

Its story was told, in 2019, with an exhibition at the Museo della Seta in Como entitled Il maestro è nell’anima. Lorenzo Riva – Fifty years of high fashion.

Lorenzo Riva passed away on November 16, 2023.


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