Roberto Cavalli Spring-Summer 2013 RTW

You might expect Roberto Cavalli’s spring show to be a full-on cavalcade of animal print and sexy dresses with not much room for nuancing such alien fashion forces as the new covering up and big trousers. Yet, surprise: for perhaps two-thirds of the show, Cavalli showed his acquaintance with such potentially antisexy ideas as long tunics over trousers; the importance of having shirttails cover the rear; the new, stiffly wide-cut sleeve; and the mannish trouser.

As difficult as it may be for a hard-core maximalist to adapt to minimalist times, he set about it with a good grace, offering, at the beginning, serene (for him) layerings of embroidered white transparencies involving crystal, chiffon, and lace. What he showed underneath them was one in the eye for followers of the “clean Céline” school—leather jeans slashed into horizontal strips or cut into an intricately flowery filigree of skin-revealing frayed lace. Say what you like, but those were bravura demonstrations of Cavalli house capabilities.

Moving on, past several beaded dresses, the collection dealt out fluid silk trousers and shirts in tendrilly, vaguely art nouveau prints. The most convincing house hybridization of mannish and hyper feminine came when a lingerie-lace-trimmed silk camisole, vaguely anchored to the body with rouleau straps, was married with a loose pair of pants and some kind of chiffon panel that floated out at the back.

But what of the Cavalli house penchant for animal print? It was, naturally, impossible to repress, though more as an insinuation than a roar. The knowing way he used a single jacket and skirt suit matched with a bag in the same print was especially clever. That’s a spring trend that registers as in the “rather advanced” class.

As for evening? The Cavalli solution for the red carpet is unapologetic, unreconstructed sexiness—all sheer beading and cutouts. Some of it might ring bells with anyone who’s seen Riccardo Tisci’s demi-naked beaded couture dresses recently, but there you go: When it gets down to thinking about how to display as much of a hot female body as possible, you can always trust an Italian.

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