Sometimes, the sheer gutsiness of a personal conviction can make a collection inspiring. From the second Gemma Ward stormed onto the runway—in a long, flounced peasant skirt, tiny ethnic vest, and a bush hat bound in a print scarf—Roberto Cavalli's spring presentation was a thrill almost equal to the good old days of show time Milan.

Cavalli's theme, according to his program notes, was Fashion Traveler. Translation: an eclectic throwing-together of hippie-ish trailing print skirts, ruffled cavalier shirts (worn belted at the hip as tantalizing dresses), and nineteenth century Sgt. Pepper-ish frogged military jackets.

Inevitably—for this is Milan—Cavalli also embraced the mania for Africa that is doing the rounds (is it contagious?). Yet his shifts, beaded with African mask motifs, looked like more than a token gesture. And his ability to go beyond paying lip service to a trend led to some enviable moments of in-your-face decoration—like boleros or evening dresses encrusted with great spiky outcrops of coral. In these times of ladylike fashion, Cavalli is providing a missionary outreach program for rock chicks. And for that alone, he deserves a benediction.