Given a 40th anniversary in business to celebrate, most designers would be pulling out all the wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am stops. Roberto Cavalli started his show that way, with three gothic ninjas trolling dramatically down the catwalk into the middle of the Palazzo del Senato's courtyard and lighting a pint-size Olympic flame. But the designer seemed to lose interest fast. When the rain began to douse his open-air audience, the music abruptly stopped and that was it—show over with no finale. There has always been a haphazard quality to Cavalli, the good sitting quite comfortably beside the bad. Over the years, there has been plenty of the very good, but there wasn't enough of it in tonight's show.

One of Cavalli's strengths is the artisanship of Florentine leatherworkers. A blue suede jacket with a spine of studs was a pallid substitute, never mind that there wasn't much leather or suede to begin with. His animal prints have always been a successful signature. They were replaced for this collection by inspirations he'd apparently accumulated on a recent trip to Indonesia, but they felt hurried and unformed compared to the sexy specificity of leopard or zebra. And while Cavalli has excelled at a rock-dandy style that promises dark delights, tonight's version looked like he'd crossed to the light side. Of course, comparisons are usually invidious. Still, it was a shame when the designer actually had something to celebrate that the evening wasn't more reflective of that.