By Alison Leiby
Whenever an internationally renowned designer couples with an internationally renowned affordable retailer, riots ensue. The Roberto Cavalli capsule line for H&M was no exception. The November 8th launch came complete with celebrity appearances, violent shoppers and lots of leopard.
Designer Roberto Cavalli with Model Jessica Stam.
Known for animal prints, flashy embellishments and down-to-there cuts, Roberto Cavalli marks a change in style for the European based retailer. Past collections from Stella McCartney, Karl Lagerfeld and Viktor & Rolf have been more minimalist. Cavalli’s line exudes the sexy/Rock & Roll style as his runway collections, just at a more realistic price. In both men’s and women’s apparel, he infuses glamour into a store normally reserved for younger styles and basic items.
Key pieces from the women’s collection involve the obligatory wild motifs. Leopard spots grace a long-sleeved wrap dress, corset-like strapless top and a floor length spaghetti strap gown. A handkerchief-hemmed cocktail dresses come in zebra print or black and white leopard. Skinny trousers and jeans, a beaded gold dress (very flapper-esque) and a sophisticated tuxedo jacket echo the Cavalli aesthetic while still being wearable and chic. Not all of Cavalli’s creations scream “African Safari.” A chic black trench, a black military jacket and nude-hued, silk blouses make up the rest of the collection.
For women searching for a Cavalli piece that might mix more fluidly into her wardrobe than animal print and deep v-necks, the designer also presents lingerie with his trademark detailing. Leopard and zebra may be difficult patterns to wear on a daily basis, on the outside. Underneath sober black and simple t-shirts you can don Cavalli’s wild camisoles and black lace lined boy shorts.
Accessories, a mainstay of H&M (cheap costume jewelry and pashminas make-up many women’s wardrobes) come with the Cavalli twist as well, only for a much larger investment than typically expected from H&M. Leopard print Mary Jane pumps and gold t-strap heels ring in around $120. Less expensive accessories include a tusk like pendant on a gold chain, snake and purple gemstone bangles and a zebra silk scarf.
The pieces from this collection, from floor length leopard silk to black tailored cotton, are incredibly versatile. You can wear every item from the collection together (a zebra cocktail dress under a black military jacket with some gold pumps) or incorporate one piece into your existing wardrobe no matter how much or little animal prints it already has.
The greatest appeal of this latest capsule venture for H&M is it adds some spice, some sexiness. Right now (or at least when the collection is restocked) there are grown-up alternatives to skull and cross bone sweatshirts and neon babydoll dresses. Silk dresses, tailored jackets and pants and sophisticated prints usher in a new level to H&M, a new urbanity not often seen from the store.