Roberto Cavalli's clothes are designed for the kind of males who can wrangle a python and skin it with their bare teeth, all to a thumping dance beat. For them, the fur-lined snakeskin jackets, baroque studded leathers, and shredded denims in his latest collection will be sheer nirvana.
However, the backdrop for Cavalli's fall showa baronial library, complete with reading deskswas so stately that the first outfit seemed out of context. (Even though a black crocodile jacket with sleeves in scarab-green python is actually way closer to the Roberto Cavalli aesthetic than a wall full of books.) But odd contrasts were the unwitting essence of Cavalli's latest collection. Among such: a brown techno-fabric jacket with snakeskin detailing, pairings of patent leather and velvet, the soundtrack of classical music swimming in and out of disco, and the effortless way in which his stunning female mannequins made Cavalli's men look like boys.
The program notes invoked seventies scenesters Helmut Berger and Rudolf Nureyev (rapidly shaping up as one of the season's most peculiar influences), though Cavalli is not really king of the urban jungle. A gray double-breasted suit or a cutaway pinstripe jacket felt incongruous, even with the latter's epaulets and military detailing. But give Roberto an outdoor disco in some far-flung hot spot and he rules!