Pitti Uomo welcomed the continued relaunch of Roberto Cavalli’s menswear and the company really needs this to fly. Now under the creative direction of Paul Surridge, the British designer formerly at Jil Sander and Z Zegna, Cavalli, as a brand, has gone through something of a rocky patch.
After moving the HQ from Florence to Milan, under the short lived leadership of Peter Dundas, they let nearly a third of their workforce go. It’s now back to Florence and this was Surridge’s second full collection of menswear.
Up in the hills, outside of Florence, in the refined surrounds of the Florence Charterhouse, this monastic setting saw a collection that ran from white to black with the brand’s famous animalistic signatures in-between.
This was a new, slicker and sporty Cavalli with the animals skins subtly layered rather than trowelled on, like in previous years. Gone was the boho, overly beaded Cavalli and in its place was something for a new customer that continues to buy into ‘designer’ fashion, but wants ease and wearability.
Reptiles, fish, (alien?) skins were jacquarded into fabrics. Leopard print was digital yet blurred and knitwear was finished with broken threads hanging down.
There was a nod to the current bad denim fashion and add the snakeskin boots, which Cavalli should really own, it referenced the Martine Roses and Balenciagas of this world.
One of the standout pieces was a tapestry intarsia coat covered in the Cavalli logo and good luck talismans. A digital watch print added humour and the python soled trainers looked almost aquatic as they breathed past.
As we went into the black and final evening section, bugle beads were applied in constrained vertical lines. It was all very controlled and refined.
I like this new Cavalli, it feels fresher and more contemporary. But, is this is what their current and loyal customer wants? If not, they need to find a new one and fast. Maybe those good luck talismans have a deeper meaning.