"Excess is my success," quoth Roberto Cavalli on the brink of his Fall presentation, and never was a truer word spoken in anticipation of a show that spun sinuous coils around a scenario of old-school decadence. It was heavy, leaden almost, in its attachment to the notion of an opiated, smoky-eyed seductress luring hapless males to sexual oblivion, but for all of that, it had a heady momentum.

For one thing, the clothes themselves were founded in the cult of Florentine craftsmanship, with traditions that date back to the Renaissance. Kasia Struss sported a drop-waist dress in leather pleated and plaited in such a way that it would have been familiar to artisans in the sixteenth century. Fur jackets were woven with leather strips on traditional looms. And, where Roberto would once have used photoprints to color his collection, here he actually picked up a brush and painted les fleurs du mal on his accessories.

Still, technique held a small candle to the fin de siècle mood generated by monochrome floral prints, by pieces intricately beaded with a mosaic of metal to make a new armor, and by necklaces and bracelets sculpted with snakes. The toxic subtext had an eldritch lure. There is, after all, a Mordor-like shadow over fashion this season.