There has been a definitive shift in Milanese fashion of late: a determined move away from the glitz of the noughties towards a softer, more gentle approach to luxury. This new aesthetic has resulted in a resurgence of interest in Italian houses from Gucci to Philosophy – and Peter Dundas’ inaugural menswear collection as creative director of Roberto Cavalli certainly wove a new thread in this tapestry. With his A/W16 collection showing a distinct evolution of the house renowned for its high-octane approach to glamour, featuring men and womenswear alike, we spoke to Dundas about what it was that informed his collection and how he has chosen to "start a new chapter for the Cavalli man's wardrobe."
A Refined Opulence
Adapting the house’s codes towards easy, refined opulence rather than the razzle-dazzle of yore, Dundas' collection featured pussy-bow blouses and loosely-slung scarves aplenty. Leopard print found its way onto comfortably louche fur coats instead of printed upon body-con minis, dressing gowns were turned into beautifully tailored eveningwear. But still, there was plenty of the colour and embellishment associated with the house; it was a modern development of Roberto Cavalli’s own vision rather than an abandonment of its DNA.
A man who cut his teeth at Cavalli as head of design between 2002-2005, Dundas explained post-show that the line was not only an evolution of the brand’s menswear but equally a "personal wishlist" of the clothes that he wanted to find in his own wardrobe. "I have to be very honest in my work, about what I could produce and deliver," he explained "and I love working with those materials – with colour, with embroidery." And, as is to be expected following Dundas' tenure as the Creative Director of Pucci, there was ornamentation galore – but teamed with tennis shoes and t-shirts that steered the aesthetic away from the overwrought and into the desirable.
A Modern Medley
Inspired by his musical heroes from the late 60s and early 70s – the likes of Mick Jagger and Jimmy Page, Serge Gainsbourg (for women, it was Jane Birkin and Marianne Faithfull) – there was a thoroughly rock and roll insouciance to the boys and girls who walked out to Frédéric Sanchez' soundtrack of The Who. But, rather than rehashing nostalgia, Dundas was rooting the brand in the new contemporary, establishing himself as part of a movement that prioritises eclectic individualism and a relaxed approach to dress. "I think fashion is really exciting at the moment," he says. "There is a generation shift, with new people moving into the establishment, and we’re really ready for it; we need to do things differently." And with a cool stylistic ease that counterbalanced the agitated pace of fashion, he was establishing himself as a part of this new direction. After all, he quipped, in 2016 "time is the ultimate luxury" – and nothing signifies luxuriant leisure quite like an effortlessly draped scarf.
An Intimate Affair
Staged in a decorated Milanese palazzo filled with giant bouquets, marble busts and seating comprised of antique furniture, there was a bohemian grandeur and atmosphere of intimacy at the show itself – and as Dundas later explained, "it is right across the street from my house so it really did feel like home." "What I do, I mainly do for myself," he continued and, staging his show on a Friday night followed by food served on silver platters, there was a distinct departure from the modern minimalism of his womenswear collection towards something far warmer and more familial. "Showing in the evening corresponds to my tribe," he laughed – and, as a man renowned for his frankly fabulous approach to nightlife, it felt like a thoroughly natural decision. "Life is short, you should enjoy it," he proclaimed. And, this season, there was plenty of life at Cavalli.