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The Leopard Changes His Spots


Airy, virginal, soft
With details that recall Victorian nightgowns and peasant dresses, Cavalli's collection was a radical shift from a designer better known for good-hearted raunch.  

At noon the day after the show, Cavalli sweeps into his white-marbled Via Senato showroom, balancing an espresso as he scrolls through his cell-phone messages and smokes a cigar. He runs over to a display of his new dresses and considers the feel of each fabric, and then sits at a table with a consigliere who shows off a pair of women’s eyeglasses in a beige leopard-print case that doubles as an evening bag. “This reminds me of the leopards in Africa that I saw in 1970,” Cavalli says. “I went to Kenya and Tanzania alone, and I was fascinated to be where no tourists have ever gone. I learned to love all animals except for the snake. I am afraid of the snake! You cannot figure out which is the head and which is the tail.” He laughs. “It is mysterious, like a woman.”

He drains the espresso, throwing his feet up onto the table. Then he dunks his cigar ashes into the cup and grins.


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