The set was a soundstage, studio klieg lights bearing down on the catwalk. The first look was as silvered as a celluloid image from a silent film. Welcome to Cavalli-wood. It was a clever conceit, a way to gloss a collection that was, in essence, a retread of classic Roberto Cavalli
tropes. Which is to say, this collection was technically masterful, commercially savvy, and seductive in ways that render showbiz queens powerless. It might have been the deep backless swoop on a second-skin bias-cut gown; or the clingy, webby weave of knit and lace; or the repurposed reptile in a tiny jacket or skinny jean; or a sinuous stretch of baguettes illuminating the obvious. Any way you look at it, though, it all said that however distracted Roberto Cavalli might have been penning his already-notorious autobiography, he had clearly set aside the time to tool around with his screen-siren concept. The Art Deco caftans, the piano-shawl fringing, the lithe goddess columns all had the exhibitionist shimmer of a young Norma Desmond. Aside from those second-skin things, it actually felt like everything floated away from the body, articulated, suspended on punky little chains. But whatever edge there might have been to that notion was diluted by a faded, has-been color palette (well, that's Norma Desmond for you). The silver-screen dreaminess of the result fell into place when the models walked out en masse at the end of the show. At that point, it became perfectly clear that Cavalli-wood was a director's dream world. And there he was, center stage.