Roberto Cavalli opened his latest extravaganza with giant screen projections featuring fast-paced stills and video clips of Cher, specifically her wild seventies moments. The throbbing momentum of movie and soundtrack was so dramatic that it came as a crashing anticlimax when the diva herself—Cavalli’s muse of this and many another season—did not appear on the mirrored runway. And for all his devil-may-care bravura Cavalli seemed to find the arch, razzle-dazzle couture of Bob Mackie, who created Cher's most eye-popping looks, equally elusive.

Nonetheless, prints, brilliant color, and cabaret sparkle are all big news this season and Cavalli had them aplenty; his heady mix even included raunchy rodeo queens in tiny python jackets with rhinestone-beaded yokes or finely-chiseled leather chaps. Skin-tight cowgirl shirts and hourglass dresses featured prints of swirling pheasant and guinea fowl feathers—often embellished with the real thing—or of frenzied kaleidoscope effects that evoked Pompeian tiled courtyards. Cavalli also tapped a softer side of seventies fashion with sexy, layered, drifting chiffon print dresses that recalled Swinging London designer Ossie Clark (who's currently being celebrated in an influential exhibit at London's Victoria & Albert Museum).

A fussier side of evening was revealed in deftly draped gowns with elaborately structured bodices that had the come-hither appeal of saloon gals in a fifties spaghetti western. Subtlety has never been Cavalli's forte—how about a spotted cat jacket with diamond cutouts for an airy summer effect?—and somehow his floor-length pieces, slashed and bared as they are, reveal more than most designers’ swimsuits. Overall, his flamboyant results—an ivory goddess gown seemingly held together with threads of crystal, or midriff-baring costumes with skirts of ostrich pompons—ended up looking more Vegas showgirl than Cher.