“Everything is precious, bar the attitude,” read the show notes for Peter Dundas’ debut as creative director of Roberto Cavalli, succeeding the founding designer under new ownership after Italian private equity firm Clessidra SGR bought a 90 percent stake earlier this year.
“It’s a homecoming,” Dundas beamed backstage, for he had cycled through Emanuel Ungaro and Emilio Pucci in the decade since his first stint at the Florence-based house Roberto built. He reiterated a wish to give the brand a “fresh face” with an “easy, sporty” approach to dressing.
To be fair, the Norwegian designer made good on the above statements, delivering a strong injection of youth and street savvy along with a more freewheeling approach to dressing. To him, a sleeveless biker vest and a rugged utility parka are the pashminas of today, tossed over cocktail dresses, a billowing silk skirt, loud leggings, whatever.
Dundas exalted the capabilities of Cavalli’s ateliers to realize Flintstones-esque suede dresses and tops, swinging-chain embroidered vests and milk-maiden dresses in tie-dyed silks — all distinct from the baroque, super polished approach of yore.
But to be frank, Dundas also dipped into the deep well of questionable taste associated with the Eighties: bleached and tinted denim suits and separates, chain mail tops and miniskirts, and painted-on “Pretty Woman” dresses.
Back to those show notes: Dundas called the collection “an homage to the Roberto Cavalli woman — past, present and beyond.” Given the present situation, let’s wait for the beyond.