Forty years of Roberto Cavalli—it scarcely seems credible. How many in the enormous audience for his Fall presentation were even born when he first set needle to appliqué to denim in his little shop in Saint-Tropez? But he’s never forgotten the wealthy, glamorous boho set who were his first customers, and who, like him, are now knocking on 70. It was their rich-hippie look that shaped his Fall collection.
There were too many harem pants and classically tinged Diana the Huntress dresses (floaty tulle; backless; paired with flat sandals; and missing only a bow, some arrows, and a couple of golden apples), but their presence made the more structured elements look better. Witness the brocaded military coats, or the tightly tailored black doublets with tiny laser-cut slashes. Doublets? Well, it’s hard not to come over all Renaissance-like with Cavalli, because his appreciation of the artisanship of his native Florence has always been his greatest asset. In this collection, his use of brocade, dévoré, studded leather, and embroidered broadtail all felt like vintage flourishes out of time. Even his signature brash animal prints were blurred and faded, as if time had its way with them. It was romantic in its own decadent way. The impression was compounded by a backdrop that impressively evoked a crumbling palazzo. Still, there was promising modernity in the way Cavalli composed outfits from light, multilayered pieces.
In his show notes, the designer claimed he’d always created dresses for the most beautiful women and “for men who need the beauty of women to complete themselves.” He poignantly insisted he had found just such a woman in his wife, Eva.