New clothes should not look new: this was the message from last night's Miu Miu catwalk show in Milan. With crumpled felt hats and leather coats wrinkled as if battered by the elements, it emphasised with force the vintage feel seen at its elder sister label, Prada, earlier in the week.
Miu Miu may be Miuccia Prada's younger and more moderately-priced line, but it is one of the most influential in fashion, and is a particular favourite among high-street copyists.
Mis-matched jacquard skirt suits, in Seventies shades of purple, brown and burgundy, were teamed with Lurex knits and platform sandals. Delivered to a lugubrious Barry White soundtrack, the show captured a mood of vintage chic that dominated at this latest round of Milan collections. However, it had a lightness and nonchalance others have not managed.
But this is not what the Roberto Cavalli woman needs in her wardrobe next autumn. It seems she needs a ruby-red strapless frock made entirely from trembling feathers, perhaps, or a floor-length mink jazzed up with crystals.
Even at Milan, the spiritual home of high-voltage glamour, Cavalli is in a league of his own. Consider the mise-en-scène he created inside a vast black marquee: beside his catwalk were jewelled statues of elephants, standing guard beside a mammoth golden bed loaded with leopard-print blankets.
In such a setting one could reasonably expect a parade of clothes that are, well, tacky. In Milan, this would not be too much of a surprise. But Cavalli made flash look fabulous. He does this with a combination of expensive-looking fabrics, a fine sense of camp, and sheer aplomb. Crucially, he also has at his disposal the expertise of four Parisian embroidery workshops that supply refined houses such as Christian Dior.
Cavalli can expect another photocall at next Sunday's Oscar ceremony. His red-carpet frocks were some of the best seen so far this week. Columnar dresses looked expertly constructed in brown silk jersey. But it was a yellow chiffon costume painted with tiger stripes and ended in a froth of feathers that stole the show.
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