• TIM BLANKS

Roberto Cavalli Goes for Millennial Glamour

If Paul Surridge's debut felt like he’d isolated a zone where Cavalli and he could bond, with this collection the designer surrendered more to the house's ethos.

MILAN, Italy — In his meditations on the essence of Roberto Cavalli, Paul Surridge kept coming back to one word: glamour. But he felt he needed to give it a millennial spin. What makes glamour attractive? Surridge decided confidence was sexy, but sexiness demanded comfort. And there he had the formula for his sophomore collection for Cavalli.

Surridge showed menswear and womenswear together. That was a first for Cavalli. He admitted he’d dived deep into the archives, particularly 2000-2004. You could tick the boxes: animal prints, ruched super-groupie dresses, artisanal leathers, embroidered denims. If his debut felt like he’d isolated a zone where Cavalli and he could bond, this collection felt much more like Surridge had surrendered to a house ethos, maybe even been compelled that way after his introductory collection. Still, the question lingered: where and how would you slot these clothes into a contemporary context? So much alligator (embossed leather, to be fair). So much scarf-hemmed drift. So much lynx.

Given Surridge’s background in men’s fashion, it was no surprise that his menswear was strongest. His own indulgence was the inspiration he took from Murano glassware. There was a spectacular coat with a tonic hue, suggesting the depth of colour in the glass that Murano produces.

But Surridge didn’t want men on top. His inspiration was the role reversal of “Basic Instinct”, which had a “watch this space” edge. And in the moment, that felt like he has his work cut out for him reconciling Cavalli then and Cavalli now.

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