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Attention, Please: Styles That Demand to Be Noticed

October 06, 2000|VALLI HERMAN-COHEN | TIMES SENIOR FASHION WRITER

MILAN — Suddenly, fashion designer Roberto Cavalli is high-profile, with billboards all across this city and his name tripping off the lips of Hollywood stars (Lenny Kravitz, Madonna, et al.) and their stylists.

A new Cavalli store has opened on the prestigious via Della Spiga, with one to follow in Los Angeles. Chic women are strutting out of fashionable restaurants wearing his trademark tiger-print shirts and skintight snakeskin-printed jeans.

Cavalli, the graying son of an impressionist painter and former acrobatic pilot, is married to a former Miss Universe and lives in a medieval villa in Florence with three of his five children. His spring "metamorphosis" collection hints at the fairy tale that is just beginning.

The clothes are flashy-trashy and exactly the kind of thing for attention-seeking celebutantes. His moment may not last--however grand it is now--because some of his better ideas are derivative. There were plunging rectangular necklines and bodysuits, a la Jennifer Lopez's infamous Versace dress. The kimono-sleeve caftans, the richly beaded faded jeans and the chubby hot-yellow fur jacket were part of the magic that propelled Gucci to the spotlight seasons ago.

Still, the clothes seem to connect with young women. "It's very rock," said model Isabeli Fontana backstage. "Suddenly," added model Alec Wek, "everybody is looking forward to this show." As he applied loads of mascara and coral lipstick on a model, a Los Angeles MAC makeup artist chimed in: "It's the hot ticket."

For now.

*

George Clooney is the latest star to sit ringside at the Versace fashion shows. When the former "ER" star walked into the Versus show surrounded by bodyguards Sunday, waves of applause spread through the six rows of bleachers. Stars are, by now, common at fashion shows, but Clooney received the kind of ovation usually reserved for heads of state or sports heroes.

Clooney is widely recognized in Italy not only because of his movies, but also because the "ER" series here lags behind the United States by many months. In Italy, the dear doctor hasn't yet left the show.

Clooney has been keeping a low profile, but on Monday night, he was seen at the Principe di Savoia hotel giving a friendly embrace to model Carmen Kass.

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