The family business is an enduring Italian tradition. It was perhaps inevitable then that Daniele Cavalli, Roberto's 25-year-old son, would one day play a role at his father's label. While Papa was still very much front-row-and-center today, greeting the International Herald Tribune's Suzy Menkes with a courtly kiss on the back of the hand, it was the boy who was guiding journalists through the collection backstage before the show. Daniele said the clothes were inspired by the Riviera and in particular his sense of that still-magnetic strip of coastline as a meeting place for people from all over the world, hence the melding of American traditions—jeans, leather—with more structured European sartorial elements.
So what effect has the younger Cavalli's involvement, now in its third season, had on the menswear line? Well, there are still plenty of outfits here that require you to fearlessly unleash your inner lounge lizard. The Cavalli man will never be a shrinking violet, and to prove it, he prefers his violet suede blouson with full python trim. The house's assertive suits, with their strong shoulders, nipped waists, and generous, even spendthrift lapels, come in purple, yellow, and fuchsia. Still, it isn't hard to imagine Daniele and his friends wearing some of these pieces on their own Mediterranean jaunts. In previous collections, that wasn't always the case with his father, who several years ago settled into a personal uniform of black blazer and boot-cut jeans.
Stripes were used to interesting effect here, sometimes boldly as in multicolored pants, but also in a more nuanced way as in the textured tone-on-tone pattern on a cobalt blue blazer. The matching shirt the latter was paired with had a lizard motif, but one subtle enough to go unnoticed until Daniele pointed it out. That was new. (As The New York Times' Guy Trebay noted last season, the participation of the respected stylist Robert Rabensteiner may account for some of this new feeling, too.)
A note on the location: The collection was shown outdoors in the garden of the Palazzo Serbelloni. What was Plan B if the rain clouds that started to gather ominously an hour or so before kickoff hadn't conveniently dispersed? There wasn't one. Daniele claims to enjoy that kind of risk. Cavalli may not be everyone's cup of tea, but in an increasingly corporate world, it's reassuring to know there are still family-run enterprises that play by their own rules.