The set for Roberto Cavalli's spring show included an elaborate tented poolside cabana in black-and-white stripes, shaded by palm trees and placed at the edge of a runway printed with a swimming pool's ripples. It evoked a location that Slim Aarons, legendary chronicler of the rich at play, photographed in Palm Beach in the sixties. And all the giddy opulence of that manicured islet was reflected in his briskly paced show.
Moving with the speed of gazelles pursued by cheetah prints, Cavalli's regiment of high-stepping glamazons was dressed for a trip to Giorgio Beverly Hills, circa Dynasty vintage, in an Alexis Colby take on patriotic red, white, and blue. By Cavalli's standards, a gold sequined blazer worn with lean, deck-chair-stripe cotton pants is the last word in daytime understatement. As is a clear plastic trench elaborately pinstriped in velvet appliqué, or a "jean" jacket in plastic and ruby alligator. After dusk, of course, the Cavalli girl really lets rip, in jewel-fringed shimmy frocks or barely-there drifts of ombré chiffon in the colors of tropical sunsets. A silk gingham crinoline dress seemed relatively primuntil its skirts opened to reveal the microshorts underneath. (These have looked unconvincing on other runways, but will surely find a place in the heart and wardrobe of the fearless Cavalli gal.)
The sheer, outrageous courage of Cavalli's convictions allows him to filter and shake up influences and make them all his owneven when he's ransacking the archives of the design greats for details. This season, those included Valentino's sixties giraffe prints and Yves Saint Laurent's one-shoulder, multistriped, ruffled chiffon dresses from the seventies and eighties.
Who but Cavalli himself, however, could send out a finale parade of sequined black-and-white swimsuitssurely designed with the pool boy rather than the pool in mind?