Cavalli Scion Offers a Breath of St-Tropez Air
by Laurie brookins
Daniele Cavalli would feel right at home in Las Vegas, I tell him, if how he spent his August is any indication. The 26-year-old designer journeyed around the Mediterranean on father Roberto Cavalli’s 140-foot Baglietto yacht, the RC. And while yachts may not be indigenous to the Las Vegas landscape, Daniele’s description of his dad’s rather famous, rainbow-hued vessel, and how much he says he loves it, allows the thought that he would assimilate nicely amid the glam lights of the Strip: “It’s a luxury pirate ship,” Daniele says with a laugh.
The Cavalli name has been synonymous with glamour since that early-’70s moment when Roberto, a former art student and the grandson of an Impressionist painter, perfected a technique for printing on leather and quickly drew attention from the likes of Pierre Cardin and Hermès before venturing out on his own with an eponymous collection. This year, the Florence-based label celebrates the 40th anniversary of Roberto’s first boutique, in St-Tropez (the largest Cavalli collection in the US is right here at Crystals), and you can’t help but note the lovely symmetry in what Daniele is doing now with the Cavalli men’s collection, namely in continuing to push boundaries with fabrics and printing techniques.
For Fall/Winter 2012, during his third year at the helm of Cavalli men’s, he is indeed exhibiting a deft hand with both his influences and the use of artful tailoring. The Cavalli codes are much in evidence throughout the collection—a spotlight on animal prints, for example, with a great play on scale (as well as scales, in the case of one snake-print jacket), while Daniele also has inherited his dad’s fearless use of color, including a bold chartreuse for fall. But it’s another element of the label’s DNA that serves as the highlight for the season: a grouping of leather jackets, textural and detailed. One croc-embossed style is a particular standout.
“I compare these jackets to suits of armor,” he says. “I like to think of the man feeling like a warrior—of work, of love, of life—when he’s wearing one of these pieces, so I wanted to really appreciate the structure. I discovered that there were more than 100 steps to build up a jacket, and just one step being off can completely change the fit. One millimeter of difference in silhouette can totally change the perception of your body to the whole world.”
I can’t help but wonder what Daniele might choose to wear for a sojourn on the Strip, where a pair of jeans and a black button-down shirt has become a typical guys-night- out uniform. “I’d go for one of the nice, slim tuxedos,” he says, “like the dark gray, mixed with details that are a bit more dark blue than purple.”
You’ll see this idea of polished and modernist elegance transition into his Spring/ Summer 2013 collection, in which the jackets are slim and small on the shoulder, then flair out around the waist. “I liked how cool it felt to really fit the shoulder and then feel very comfortable at the waist,” he says. “Men today want to be comfortable most of the time, and I can understand that— I like to dress comfortably, too.”
Metallics and electric colors are also key to that collection, and if you look closely, you’ll see what inspired the print used throughout. “It’s a very macro look at a butterfly,” Daniele says. “The wings of a butterfly are composed of thousands and thousands of tiny scales, and I wanted to come in very close on this. And then of course there’s also the idea of a cocoon, and of transforming.”
The metaphor might also be applied to Daniele himself who, it must be said, is spreading his wings. “My father loves women, so he’s not really into the menswear as much,” he says. “But that means he gives me a lot of freedom. There was a moment after the last show, when my father—whose style is so different from mine—said to me, ‘Bravo!’ At the end of the day, that’s the most important thing.”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANITA BUGGE/WIRE IMAGE (DANIELE); VITTORIO ZUNINO CELOTTO/GETTY IMAGES (CAVALLI FAMILY); AL POWERS (STORE)