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PRE-FALL 2020: Roberto Cavalli

Roberto Cavalli has been in a state of flux since the departure of creative director Paul Surridge in March. Eight months later, the company is still waiting to be put back on firm ground and rebuilt by a new owner. In the meantime, the in-house team marches on, providing transitional collections designed to be appealing to buyers and keeping the business afloat without straying from the label’s core vision: a sexy, powerful look bordering on the amazonian yet winking to Bohemia, with animalier prints in every possible iteration.

The Cavalli woman is part goddess, part warrior, part irresistible seducer. The designers complied with this (rather challenging) narrative, referencing for Pre-Fall the magical world of Celtic mythology, the romantic legends of Avalon, and King Arthur and the Knights, as well as Richard Donner’s fantasy movie Ladyhawke. To save the company, a little magic would surely be of help.

The medieval imagery translated into a series of sumptuous printed motifs (one of the house’s distinctive traits), including Hawks’s plumages; ramages interspersed with effigies of knights and mythological animals; and cheetah and jaguar spots blending into fantasy landscapes. Those details found their way onto long cocktail dresses in over-dyed dévoré velvet or in plissé silk georgette which (the rather hyperbolic subtext notwithstanding) felt effortless and not overdone, qualities not often associated with Cavalli’s usual flamboyance.

In the daywear mix were alpaca, leather, and shearling greatcoats, cut oversize with a military feel and punctuated by metallic buttons with Celtic motifs. Sharp tailoring was prominent in masculine coats encrusted with metallic lace. Black velvet pantsuits had a sexy vibe, with cropped spencer jackets worn on bare skin. Denim was stone-washed and doubled with indigo dévoré velvet, to achieve an elaborate ripped finish.

As for the menswear, it definitely looked less dramatic. Uniforms were the starting point for tailored pieces, richly textured with a medley of jacquards, Prince of Wales checks, houndstooth, and animalier motifs. The silhouettes were kept linear with a slight ‘90s vibe spiced up with a Cavalli-esque nods to glamour, as in a luscious velvet blazer embroidered with sequined feathers. Worn with an animalier-printed shirt, it looked fit for a bonafide Cavalli rockstar.

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