Step through the looking glass into a world where a brocade robe manteau that reverses to silk mink (think sheared mink, but thinner) could be considered as daywear. This is the parallel universe of Roberto Cavalli, and it was fully explored in a collection that married Paul Poiret's silhouettes to the opulence of Leon Bakst's Ballets Russes and the fashion sensibility of London's bright young things in the early 1970's.

Though lavish as ever, this presentation could actually be considered a departure for Cavalli, with its softer volumes and almost decorous cover-ups. Sure, there was a bias-cut leopard-print gown under a sable jacket but—as Roberto's wife Eva was eager to point out before the show—the new Cavalli woman is less of a show-off. Hence, it was out with the body-limning corsets and in with those enveloping, reversible robe manteaus. One sable-trimmed number was lined in kimono silk and banded with orchid-toned velvet. Other linings made liberal use of lace and gold leaf, intimate details designed for the private pleasure of the wearer. The best examples suggested the kind of heirloom pieces that might—as Bakst's costumes did—end up at auction. On the other hand, a leopard-lined full-length military coat with a huge red phoenix traced down its back in beads and feathers had a little too much Vegas about it to be taken seriously.

As far as the here and now goes, a gray flannel suit with jumbo-leg trousers had a hint of the Thin White Duke, one of the icons of this season. Dropped-waist flapper dresses, meanwhile, should be popular with the twenty-first century's jeunesse dorée. And a glamorously elongated stretch of cinnamon-color jersey was Cavalli's version of a long T-shirt. Daria Werbowy, who wore it in the show, coveted this item afterward—and why not? She has the body to show it off to advantage.