Evans Caglage, Fashion at the Park, NorthPark Center, Fall 2008
Look, even if you didn't know there was a Roberto Cavalli, you'd know this was Roberto Cavalli.

Having a Cavalli, or: Economy? What Economy? It's Fashion at the Park!

Within five minutes of entering the tent at Fashion at the Park, I had seen a man carrying a large gray Birkin bag, counted no fewer than three hats (a fedora, a pillbox with a veil and a feathered top hat) and had the elbow of my dress soaked in a signature martini. The open-air space smelled of D.L. & Co.’s Black Dahlia -- there was a rose-petaled fountain full of the stuff -- and was more like a canopy than a tent, with both sides opening onto NorthPark’s outdoor Center Park.

The sold-out opening night show, like several of the other shows at Fashion at the Park, was a season behind the big fashion shows that just finished up in New York, London, Paris and Milan. Those cities saw spring/summer 2009 collections; Dallas was about to ogle Roberto Cavalli’s fall 2008 spread. As I waited in the media section of the show, I noticed other attendees flipping through a Cavalli look book. A bit annoyed at being left out, I leaned down the row and asked a blonde where she had gotten the book. She replied, with an amused look, “It was in my chair.” And sure enough, I was sitting on mine. Bumpkin, meet Big City.

The collection was subdued Cavalli, all lace and ruffles and florals. Particular favorites of mine were a form-fitting, futuristic-looking black stretch dress and a one-shouldered, disco-esque cream mini-dress. The designer wore a black suit (with black shirt and tie) and dark shades.

But when some of us are developing a taste for canned beans and learning to darn socks as we spiral down toward deep economic recession/depression, is our city still willing to drop thousands of dollars on couture? I asked Kristen Kassab and Paige Nobles, both of SMU, if the economic downturn would curb their shopping. They looked at each other, laughed, and said no.

Not all the partyers were so optimistic, though. Friends Tanya Jackson and Ericka Hatfield both admitted that though they loved everything in the show and thought the clothes were definitely wearable, neither of them could justify spending money on a Cavalli dress. (They do like to drop dollars at BCBG and H&M, though.)

Kaysha Arnold, who had driven in from Abilene with her mom just to see the Cavalli show -- and was wearing a vintage frock that she found at Goodwill and the aforementioned pillbox hat -- said meeting the designer was “the highlight of my life,” and she wasn’t too shy to tell him that she loved his clothes but couldn’t afford them … yet.

But as long as the booze is flowing and a cool breeze is blowing, why worry about the Dow? With my gift-bag Cavalli tote -- a printed satin shopper that zips up into a leather pouch -- I’ll be the best-dressed in the poorhouse. --Michelle Mathews

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