“I looked at the black-and-white photos of Man Ray and Horst from the thirties, and I wanted to make a twenty-first-century version of that precision and perfection,” said Donatella Versace.“You know—just impeccable clothes.” Haughty, otherworldly chic isn’t exactly the way it turned out—not when Donatella applied the erotic device of hooks and eyes to female curves, and made sure some of those curves belonged to Naomi Campbell, who opened and closed the show. But this was Versace’s classiest demonstration of its couture capabilities in a long time, one that took the high ground on the inimitable Versace notion of body-con, made a passing nod to the early nineties, and then added enough giant diamond chains, medusa-head medallions, and starburst earrings to magnetize all the ladies of the modern rap community in a flash.
To feel real and relevant, couture needs to convey a convincing sense of who actually might wear it, as well as proving itself a luxurious cut above ready-to-wear. This collection had it all in sync. The hooks and eyes left zones of fabric to strategically peel back across torsos and backs, revealing delicate black corsetry and tulle cutaway bodysuits. Tracks of crystal-studded hardware were implanted into fit-and-flare coats and pencil-skirted suits with bell-hop jackets, illuminating a swish and sashay of hot, small-waisted silhouettes. Crododile tailoring dyed garnet, navy blue, and green came spliced with micro-sequined embroidery and lined with shaved mink. For evening, long corseted dresses, eventually gave way to wholly sequined second-skin jumpsuits. Extraordinary clothes for spectacular bodies—just crying out to be worn by high-dressing rock-star performers:Beyoncé andRihanna. Surely a natural fit.
Perhaps what the new generation of fashion-sophisticated music goddesses won’t quite appreciate is the extent to which Donatella is revisiting the early nineties here—how could they, when they were babies at the time? But anyone with an eye for the origins of a crop top, a camisole, and a long bias-cut skirt will spot a glamorized translation of grunge going on. That’s a thread in fall’s general fashion narrative of course—but it’s a genuine part of Donatella’s backstory too. She was there the first time round, as, of course, was Naomi Campbell, who closed the show—swishing her hips in a showgirl “body” covered up with surely the most extravagant version of a sloppy old grunge cardigan ever made.