The sex-bomb image has softened these last few seasons at Cavalli. But for Spring the designer went one better, seducing a still-skeptical audience with one of the prettiest collections of the week. A photo blowup of the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles was the backdrop, but aside from the models' teased and upswept hair and silk dresses stenciled with a golden crown, the "Let them eat cake" moments were few and far between. His touch points could've been Karl Lagerfeld-era Chloé, Victoriana through a seventies lens, the soft-focus photography of Sarah Moon, and Pretty Baby.
The show opened with a trio of dresses in white lace batiste, the first two falling to the floor, the third a short trapeze paired with fringed leather pants. Fringe has been a recurring motif in Milan, but Cavalli's is thick, almost petal-like, and in shades of caramel and mauvish gray it made for some must-have coats. Following on, there were sheer Liberty-print dresses with drop waists and trailing scarves, some worn over full trousers. The most un-Cavalli look of all? A little blazer in a flower-bud print that topped a button-down blouse and flaring jeans.
Sure, there was one navel-revealing plunge-front gown, but for the most part Cavalli resisted the urge to go flashy for evening. Silk gowns with large see-through flower prints near the hems were very Lady of the Canyon. A short strapless dress in concentric layers of ombré chiffonit looked like a garden rose bloomingwas another highlight. From the excited talk about personal orders among editors over the course of the day, it's safe to say Cavalli won himself a few new fans.