VERSACE AUTUMN/WINTER 2015-16 READY-TO-WEAR MILAN FASHION WEEK
Donatella Versace has been waiting for this moment her whole life. She’s always been a go-fast girl. Now matters most. She doesn’t pretend to be fluent in digitalism—that’s what “people” are for, after all—but with her new collection, she managed an effective integration of Versace’s past with the digital present, and a possible future in which, according to news reports, there might be an IPO for the company. You need to present a picture of glowing health in such circumstances, and the catwalk tonight certainly offered that. It was brimming with product: shoes and stockings and bags and sporty bits and pieces that spelled out V-E-R-S-A-C-E in crystal to the world.
It’s essential to remember that Versace created this fashion alphabet in the first place. When Gianni made his beaded James Deans and Marilyn Monroes at the beginning of the ’90s, he was trading in what were still some of the most potent icons of that time. Donatella did the same thing tonight, but she was using digital symbolism: hashtags, @ signs, emojis, emoticons…. Ghastly though the prospect may seem, there is an unholy multitude of people for whom an @ communicates something more intrinsically meaningful that a Dennis Stock photograph of James Dean moseying through Times Square in the ’50s. It is to Donatella’s credit that she can surf that new wave (with the assistance of “people,” of course).
She did it tonight with searing jolts of primary color in coats and capes. The cutouts from Couture were carried over with spectacular subtlety in the random sheer slices on one leg of an otherwise sober black suit, but elsewhere cutout black coatdresses were played against a red or green thigh-boot in patent leather. The Versace Greek key, a classic graphic detail for the house, was transmogrified into #[Greek] all over pert little ribbed bombers, tucked as a metal plaque inside bags, quilted into suede jackets and coats.
We may have reached a point where it is virtually impossible to conceive of Versace beyond the world that Gianni made and Donatella nurtured, but there was a flash of a crystal @ on a perfectly toned rear end tonight that hinted at a future where there is still some joy and humor to be found in fashion. Long may she reign.