Donatella Versace opened the vault for this collection. As the zeitgeist goes unrelentingly retrospective, it seems she has gone to the mattresses…and formed the winning battalion.
But if your multi-billion-dollar fashion business created serious cultural iconography in a glossy, glammy, golden heyday, why wouldn’t you hark back? Today’s autumn winter presentation in Milan wasn’t just a nostalgia trip, however (although you could be forgiven the assumption as Shalom Harlow opened the show) it was a cheeky reminder through a window of grungey Nineties sub-culture. A Courtney Love homage, if you will, with a dash more gold.
There was certainly a Teen Spirit thrashing the Versace brocades today (quite literally as Nirvana filled the soundtrack). Like a rebellious teenager busting open the windows and turning up the volume, Versace’s golden prints were forced to share their spotlight with heavy leathers, Doc Martin-style lace-ups, even puffy anoraks and Ushanka hats. Underneath, playing the part of Band Tee were screened images of a young Donatella in vintage advertisements for their fragrance Blonde (a pictorial collaboration with the Richard Avedon Foundation, whom photographed it in 1995).
Versace’s usual overt sex-appeal was then somewhat bastardised by way of slip dresses layered with turtlenecks, shirts and damask stockings. And the way-back road-trip didn’t end there. The textured tartan dresses! The socks and Mary-Janes! The golden chain chokers! The croc-leather mini-dresses! The slinky lamé cowl-neck gowns! No Emo-glam stone was left unturned. Yet, aside from all the archetype, the collection was hotly wearable. The embellished, slightly military blazers will be a top seller, as will the oversized tweeds. And there’s no doubt the whole burnt-orange-bustier-over-a-knit caboodle will be a snapped up by a Hollywood hottie any day.
It feels like Donatella had fun with this collection. Letting her sexy archives run riot with their grunge antithesis. During her press conference she lamented that with endless platforms available for scrutiny these days, a little imperfection is more important than ever. In that sense, the era of dirty hair, ripped stockings and clodhopper boots is the perfect-imperfect ingredient this season.
And while the return of a cowl-neck chain top is, to me, still hauntingly terrifying (it seems like minutes ago I was repping a backless khaki tank with low-low-low, lace-up jeans and heavy boots) Donatella is forming a persuasive argument. Kaia Gerber, Kendall Jenner, Gigi and Bella Hadid, Adut Akech, Candice Swanepoel and Irina Shayk all joined the Versace army today, though after Harlow opened, they seemed expected faces. But Donatella’s little black book had a surprise up its sleeve when, to close the show, original supermodel Stephanie Seymour strutted out (past the runway’s heavenly hedonistic Medusa installation, of course) in an elegant black column dress. A super of her pedigree needs little more. We can only imagine she and Harlow treated the youngsters to a few stories about the good ol’ days…chainy tanks and safety pins included.