#SuzyMFW: Roberto Cavalli And Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini

Roberto Cavalli: Sporty energy for the #MeToo generation

With supermodel Gigi Hadid beside him in a curvy tailored jacket and stretch bicycle shorts, Paul Surridge spoke passionately about his concept as creative director of Roberto Cavalli. Whereas the Italian founder, whose name is above the door, created a high-octane brand with sensuality as his vision, the new British-born designer is taking a sporty route.

“Everyone has a past, a present and a future and I always respect the past,” said Surridge. “I think that I’m not the natural choice of this brand – but I’m here to respect it. I want to drive this brand forward, respecting but also creating. The power of creation today, I think is the most important. And I just wanted it to feel younger, fresher and in a context that young women feel they are closer to the brand.”

It was indeed a surprise – not to say a shock – to see, under the Cavalli name, an energetic sporty style encompassing anything from an elongated jacket to a dress with ruches of tiny pleats both vertical and horizontal. The animal prints for which the founding designer was so famous appeared in a similar two-angled way. Sexuality slanted for the #MeToo generation.

“I have been looking at the physicality of the body and the power of femininity, and as a menswear designer I wanted to bring in tailoring because I think it gives a woman status,” Surridge said. “You can see that everything was done with a bermuda or cycling short, with no compromise in terms of flesh, it’s all under control. Respect. I wanted to celebrate all bodies, all types.”

From a trip to Morocco came a fringed shawl in black and white folded across the body; and a beautifully crafted dress that looked as though it were hand-stitched leather given contemporary decoration. To the current designer, it is important to focus on artisanal work – but not in a dusty way.

All Surridge’s ideas seemed convincing. But their execution still suggested a menswear designer aiming to de-feminise women with short, sharp clothing. A wrap coat extending to mid-calf with a mix of abstract animal prints was a rare moment when the ‘old’ Cavalli seemed to flow into the new.

So, the verdict on Surridge so far is: full marks for trying energetically to change the spirit of the house in a context when women want to face off aggressive males. But the bike shorts became as clichéd as a mini skirt. The search for a new image for the Roberto Cavalli woman between show-off vulgarity and pious sportiness is still ongoing.

Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini: Cute and sexy

Blatant, even if cute, sexiness is a waning look in Milan’s Spring/Summer 2019 collections. The changes in government in the period following the long reign of Silvio Berlusconi have been mirrored in fashion. So Lorenzo Serafini has become the keeper of the flame – successful because he has taken on the familiar cheeky, Southern Italian look – and made it seem fresh and modern.

This collection was drawn with a compass, rather than straight lines, with puffy frilled sleeves and romper shorts giving a bohemian prettiness to sunshine clothes. The designer first drew his lines in black and white – with bared skin offering a third shade. Then there were inserts of red, brown and orange to draw out the sweetness and blue to reflect a Mediterranean sky.

Although Serafini might not have much new to say in fashion, he deals in the pursuit of prettiness which has its own charm – especially in tough times.