MFW: ROBERTO CAVALLI F/W 2014

For a moment this afternoon, one might have been tempted to ask: Is this Milan, or is this Las Vegas. The set that Roberto Cavalli created to show his fall/winter 2014 line looked very much like it had been pulled straight from the floor of a Vegas, or perhaps Dubai, casino. There were gobi lights up top, floor spots below, and a water fountain with the Cavalli crest in the center. Then, as the lights went down and the percussive sound track came up, he set the fountain on fire.

Roberto Cavalli likes doing things big. He likes to be large and loud and his personality is very much reflected in the clothes he designs. He’s known to have a bit of a temper and his fire-based theme for this season is in that way very appropriate. What we see from his prints and his sense of styling is also someone who is very busy, someone who doesn’t stand in the shadows, and someone who one is not likely to forget any time soon. Certainly, one isn’t going to forget any of these ensembles should you stumble across them.

Cavalli starts with a large snake print paired with grey tweed. The look is extremely attractive, whether or not one includes the fur stole, and I know there are certain parts of the Southwest where one could get away with these looks as day wear and receive compliments for doing so. One of the things consistently amazing about Cavalli is his ability to create outstanding day wear that is memorable and yet still not so off-the-charts extreme as to be inappropriate.

From that beginning, Cavalli moves into his primary 1920’s style focus, with an emphasis on the art deco designs played out in the prints perfectly matched in head-to-toe separates. These are looks intended to be worn together, with everything carefully lined up and in place. These are not clothes for sloppy dressers. Along with the prints Cavalli brings broad-strapped leather fringe for a hint at that flapper look. This styling is most effective on the long white looks, where dresses are studded and have deep-plunging v-necks up top before going crazy with all this leather straps below the hips.

What really sets fire to this collection, though, is some of the most intricate and amazing bead work ever. From fire designs along the edges of skirts, to covering the curves and swirls of art deco the full length of a pair of slacks, Cavalli gives us more detailed beadwork than I believe I’ve ever seen in any of his collections, and the most amazing part is that the bulk of this bead work is not on evening gowns, though he certainly doesn’t leave those with out plenty of sparkle as well.

Cavalli’s attention to detail really shines strong in this collection. Colors are mixed and matched with dramatic precision. Fabrics are paired and matched masterfully. Every pleat, every fold, every seam has been carefully considered and re-considered and the results of that attention are evident in a collection that is so beautiful as to be nothing short of mind-boggling.

Before the show this morning, the designer managed, as he is wont to do, to make some controversial statements, criticizing Donatella Versace for spending so much money clothing Lady Gaga, and stating that he has absolutely no interest in clothing anyone for the Oscars. I think this is probably the biggest reason I like Roberto Cavalli: he’s an even more crotchety and outspoken old man than I am. The biggest difference between he and I, of course, is that his words are backed up by clothes simply unmatched by anything anyone else is doing. Anyone can criticize a designer, but it takes Roberto Cavalli to show them all how designing should be done.

No, you probably can’t afford these clothes. Perhaps you can afford the perfume, or maybe a Cavalli vodka cocktail. Still, should you see one of these pieces in a store this fall, at least go and marvel at the masterful craftsmanship that is Roberto Cavalli this fall.

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