Roberto Cavalli staged his spring collection not in a theater in Milan but on the Ponte Vecchio, the bridge that is one of the most hallowed—and beloved—symbols of Florence. The decision to show early as part of Pitti Uomo rather than during Italy's official menswear week made a certain sense (the Tuscan capital is, of course, Cavalli's hometown), even if the clothes themselves occasionally seemed in danger of being overwhelmed by a sense of place. Trousers in jewel-toned velvets, a suit in midnight silk, and leather jackets embossed like antique bookbindings hinted at the riches of Florence's Renaissance past, but modern-day Medicis would think twice about donning such outfits in the 100-degree-plus heat that dogged the city. And this was, after all, a collection destined to be worn in warm weather.

In a press conference before the show, Cavalli claimed he'd been tracking a new yen for formality among rocker buds like Lenny Kravitz, so he obliged with hypertailored jackets, nipped at the waist, and narrow trousers that ended in a small cuff just above the ankle. He also said he liked white for summer. That was good news, because it offered light relief from the autumnal shades of rust and burgundy that he otherwise favored. And the unmitigated success of the moment when Naomi Campbell sashayed over the ancient cobblestones in a white suit (an homage to front-row guest Bianca Jagger) suggested that, even though Florence was where he was born, Cavalli will always feel more at home where the jet set roam.