Mrs Beckham outshines Cavalli's men

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The Independent Online

Victoria Beckham on the catwalk, a lavish Viennese stage-set in honour of the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth and velvet smoking jackets embroidered with jade green koi carp? It can only be a Roberto Cavalli show.

Yesterday's menswear presentation by the ostentatious fashion designer had all the over-the-top elements that make Cavalli the label of choice for flashy Russian consumers, pop stars and footballers.

It was Cavalli who was responsible for a £5,500 embroidered black poncho that David Beckham was photographed wearing last month in London. Yesterday, his sometime pop singer wife, Victoria, a close friend of Cavalli, took to the catwalk as part of the finale. It was only her second stint at the job - she modelled for the first time at a London show for Maria Grachvogel back in 2000.

Female models often take part in Milanese menswear shows as a sweetener to the occasionally bland business of pinstriped suits and loafers, but Cavalli trumped his rivals by persuading a celebrity to glide, somewhat cautiously, down his carpeted catwalk.

When a designer seats his audience in Louis Quinze-style lounge chairs and has them spoilt with pyramids of Ferrero Rocher chocolates, and his own brand of vodka, he can overshadow the clothes with his eye-catching mise-en-scène.

But it was not the case on this occasion. Despite his stated Viennese theme for autumn/winter 2006, Cavalli's male models took a trip to Japan in shaved mink bomber jackets, or tomato-red silk shirts that wrap over the body in the style of a kimono.

He threw in moto-cross gear just for good measure, a neat black biker jacket appearing almost restrained in comparison to some of his other, more baroque designs.

Known for innovations with leather and furs, Cavalli also sent out scarlet, padded biker trousers and jeans in tangerine snakeskin. Expect to see them on the legs of affluent footballers later this year.

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