Paul Surridge has been at the helm of Roberto Cavalli for a little over a year, during which he’s made it his mission to square up the brand with the current cultural moment. “Cavalli has always been feminine, but femininity has moved on from traditional ideas of glamour,” Surridge said during a preview of the pre-fall collection last week and a Cavalli temporary store in New York’s Seaport District. “It’s a global business and I need it to be accessible. We’re all changing our codes and our values.”
What that has boiled down to in Surridge’s vision for Cavalli is lowering the temperature on the va-va-voom sex appeal that colored the brand’s ethos for so long without completely disassociating. Showing skin was still a focus, though in a more conceptual, less naked way. For example, the animal prints that are intrinsic to the house came updated and deployed on tailoring, a biker jacket, a sweeping caftan, a powder pink blouse and pleated skirt and patchworked furs, which are sustainably sourced. Then there were a multitude of body-con jersey pieces done in prints inspired by henna tattoos, and lush jacquard collages featuring animal motifs and tropical florals done in collaboration with Chilean artist José Pedro Godoy. Additionally, there were cozy Nordic references and tailoring that straddled classical silhouettes and new sporty Bermuda trouser shapes.
Surridge said inclusivity is important to him, and indeed the collection covered a vast swath. Tailoring felt the strongest — no surprise given Surridge’s men’s wear background. His intention to modernize is worth pursuing, but as he shifts the brand’s focus away from sex and sizzle, it’s essential to choose a focus lest inclusivity and accessibility become hodgepodge.