Thursday 14th June

| BY Richard Gray

Roberto Cavalli: Menswear Spring/ Summer 2019

Hertfordshire lad and St Martins grad Paul Surridge has spent pretty much his whole working life in Milan, and after designing for houses including Jil Sander and, more lately, as Creative Director at Z Zegna, the talented chap landed his role as the creative head of Roberto Cavalli last July. What a role, what a chance. And last night at his Menswear Spring/ Summer 19 show in Florence, Surridge sent out a series of looks which felt Cavalli but more “shopping now”, as he cleverly managed (these things need managing) the house-code animal prints into something super new. The mainly white first section, punched these prints into luxury-meets-techy fabrics and trainers with bulbous moulded soles, like something you’d wear in a far flung Cavalli off-planet moon base in 100-years time, but you’ll only have to wait about 7 months in reality. More animal print, this time, the house python also in white. Was that real python in the high-waist (this new shape is everywhere at Pitti) tailored shorts and boxy button-front jacket? You bet! Or then again… the thing about Surridge – he’s ex Neil Barrett, too – is his understanding of new fabrics. He’s a bit of a fabric science geek, see, so, in all honestly, this could have been some new exciting super-fabric stamped to *look* and *feel* like python and you’d never know a thing. Either way, great. Layering and playing with the zoom on prints really got clever, when he pulled-out on a relaxed-fit print trouser and teamed it with an in-focus but slightly bleached-out long coat. Tricky. Very tricky. Fun too. All those years of work in the tailoring rooms has paid off: the checked suits were retail kerrching and perhaps a friendly come-hither to a new customer who needs a modern work suit.  And then came the fun: print suits, some terrific washed-out knitwear, with on-purpose pulls, sewing together all manner of knitting techniques in one piece plus lovely dangling bits. And then *that* new abstracted print mix of… was it leopard? Were they leaves? Which looked like something approaching a camouflage on a button-front coat. By the way, there was a cheeky hint of the reverse of this coat, as the model walked by, which looked like the diagonals of a snake print in black – excuse me: how much work is in this collection? The animal prints continued on denim and a bright orange pant and then bam! The same, in yellow on a swingy jacket we’d love to see up close. This is a new Cavalli: Hear the roar!