Roberto Cavalli has sold 90 per cent of his eponymous brand.

The 73-year-old fashion designer has confirmed he's sold the majority stake in his business to the Italian private equity firm Clessidra, having owned the haute couture brand himself for over 40 years.

He told WWD: ''I am extremely satisfied to have signed this agreement with an Italian partner which, I am sure, will further develop what I have built in a lifetime.

''Clessidra will provide financial, managerial and human resources that will allow the company to grow further and face the challenges of the ever-evolving luxury market.''

The Italian fashion icon was reported to have been in talks with the London-based private equity firm Permira last week about a deal worth 450 million euros that would have seen him keep a 40 per cent stake.

However, Clessidra is believed to have begun talks about buying a minority stake in the brand, famous for its animal print garments, back in 2009, while the designer has been courted by private equity buyers since 2006.

Clessidra's vice-chairman Francesco Trapani - who was the chief executive of Bulgari for 25 years - will take over from Cavalli as chairman.

He said: ''We really wanted to reach this agreement as we strongly believe in the potential of Roberto Cavalli. It is a company with a unique style, unparalleled market positioning and a truly global awareness. Cavalli's brand identity is an asset that we want to preserve, a key factor on which we will found all the company's plans for international growth.''