Roberto Cavalli Fall 2014 Menswear

“Change the customer, not the collection!” That’s what Roberto Cavalli told himself eleven years ago when naysayers laughed that no one would be interested in the menswear range he was launching. Who’s laughing now? And laughing. And laughing some more. Cavalli was in a boisterous mood today as he plugged a collection that was, he declared, “designed completely by me.” This follows some seasons when his son Daniele was at the helm, but Roberto now seemed very much of the mind that father knows best. Before the show, a short film by L.A. director Nicolas Randall played, in which a Cavalli man seemed to pass through fire for a phoenixlike rebirth. A little personal symbolism, perhaps?

Given that, you might have hoped for an expression of purest Cavalli, with his signature union of Florentine artisanship and gilded rock ‘n’ roll. On the whole, your hopes would not have been dashed. The hand-tooled leathers and hybrid animal prints (herringbone artfully transforming into zebra) were on parade. So was classically lean tailoring, like the impressive military coat that opened the show. A bitsy rabbit fur coat and trousers with safety-pinned seams smeared in gold were novel nods to the rock-star wardrobe.

Still, there was a niggling sense that Cavalli hadn’t quite pulled this one out of the bag. He’s always fancied himself as an artist, and he used his own photos to create his prints. Today’s staging was supposed to suggest an artist’s atelier—worn, paint-spattered jeans
featured as an additional cue—and the photographer Ruvan Wijesooriya busily interacted with the models on the catwalk in an effort to create an art “happening.” But ultimately, all that action underscored the longtime Cavalli asset that was absent: romance. The morphing leather jacket with the huge gilded ruffle wasn’t enough to fill the gap.

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Roberto Cavalli Fall 2013 Menswear

The ninth-floor penthouse once belonged to the Gucci who was gunned down by his wife. It was bare bones when the Cavallis came across it, but Daniele Cavalli instantly felt its rightness for his vision. He thought it essential to create an environment that spoke about style, not fashion, to launch the new men’s collection. In 15 days, the huge apartment was transformed
into the Cavalli version of a traditional gentlemen’s club. There was a lot of purple and pony skin, and a view of the Duomo for which people would sell their firstborn.

Daniele Cavalli is 26. He has been directing the menswear arm of his family’s business for two years. Tonight, Dad was laid up at home with the flu, and as Daniele walked guests through his playland, his enthusiasm was barely contained. Total control! Still, he sounded like a chip off Roberto’s block when he talked about making his own prints using an instrument called a
teleidoscope. Unlike a kaleidoscope, it fractures reality into a thousand glittery fragments. Everywhere, there were teleidoscopic prints: feathers, snakeskin, flowers, on jackets, matching shirts and ties. They contributed to the uniquely Cavalli-esque quality of the daywear, though it was already there in spades in a crocodile-printed pony coat, or another one in leather with bejeweled buttons and buckles.

But Daniele didn’t really give the impression that daywear was where his heart lay. He became positively electric as he entered the salons where the eveningwear was displayed. “I want the Cavalli man to be the equal of the Cavalli woman,” he proclaimed; considering her wanton allure, that will be a tall order. But Daniele gave it a shot with a full range of evening jackets, from basic black tux to Vegas-beaded extravaganza. There were shoes and bow ties in every texture from feather to croc, and cufflinks that ran a gamut from semiprecious bees to small, discreet squares of white python. (Nice, those.) The photographer Rankin produced a
portfolio of images and videos to illuminate the collection. All in all, it was an ambitious leap into the future from a young someone whose strands of DNA are twisted with glitz. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, so they say. Anyway, everything looks better with a view.

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