A brand seldom critiqued for any kind of visual restraint, the Spring 2019 collection showcased at the Milan Fashion week was every bit as flamboyant, imaginative and rousing as expected by its multitude revelers. The show was a celebration of perky hues, power-clashing prints interspersed with eclectic, figure-hugging dresses and an abundance of shiny patent leather. A high profile cast of models walked the runway with their expectant high octane energy: Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Kaia Gerber, Emily Ratajkowski, Imaan Hammam, Teddy Quinlivan, and Freja Beha Erichsen all made appearances, as did ’90s icon Shalom Harlow, who closed the show.
Harlow has proven to be one of the most elusive of the ’90s celebrities, rarely making public appearances. Donatella, being a well-known proponent of the multigenerational cast (recall the Versace 2017 show when Cindy Crawford and daughter Kaia Gerber both walked), was expected to opt for a choice like Harlow. She looked exceptionally glorious in her wrapped and draped long floral-print dress.
The fierce and dominant Versace woman was reimagined in a slightly cheerful, fully maximized form this season. The collection was cohesive with a more nuanced and street style approach to sexuality. Dominated by statement-making details in a satisfying almost expectant homecoming journey. A joyride from quizzical to covetous, an homage to chaos and rebirth, it had all the elements of a true blue Versace showcase.
A return to extravagance and exuberance, Donatella has traded leopards and the familiar gold insignia for florals. The silhouettes remain imminently wearable with sleek pencil skirts, structured blazers, and nearly a dozen flirty, feminine cocktail dresses. The palette and prints play a dynamic orchestra that tunes into spring’s essential ornate aesthetics.
The updated visual rainbow seems decidedly contemporary bringing home the popular notion that at Versace, one always finds themselves on a satisfyingly familiar journey. A parade of vibrant colors—bright orange, yellow, blue and red in neon hues— interplayed with stripes, magnanimous prints neutralized by a common color theme.
To some, it may have appeared to be a panoply of ideas, but the collection was essentially a statement in power, dominance, and supremacy: print-on-print looks and tailored jackets, a selection of body-con pieces that highlight the curves, shiny little black dresses made for the powerful woman, and luminous prints which were dainty and delicate and added a feminine feel to the collection.
The LBD, once again experienced its shining moment in the spotlight, reinvented in black satin ensembles, with plunging necklines and asymmetrical silhouettes, sky-high slits and belted to highlight cinched waists. They were stylish while representing the Versace woman of the world who is all things dynamic, powerful and bold. From mixed-print dresses to a neon one-shouldered lambskin wonder, these alluring pieces definitely stood out. On the opposite end of the spectrum, sheer dresses layered over prints adapted a conservative approach to the theme.
The collective spirit focussed on reworking the iconic Versace micro floral prints—unusually soft and fluttery this season—that was amalgamated with gallant and defiant body-con silhouettes. There was something about the way Bella Hadid glided down the runway in her one-shoulder Fluro-yellow leather dress—all legs and sneakers—which showed her genuinely at home with it, acting her age and representing the millennial preference for functionality with the fit.
Donatella is truly tuned into that reality. The millennial shaped hole in the market and she is driving deep into it with practical and efficient profiles. She balances this with some incredible sleek cuts, exaggerated slits and strappy numbers to which only a grown woman can do justice. If it was a show which lacked theme, it compensated in insightful variety.
Because Versace (and most of its competitors) are capitalizing on their one true metier – nostalgia, the collection was heavy on the ’90s and ’00s references: Ruched leather miniskirts and dresses looked like the age-old Hollywood paparazzi shots, a spaghetti-strap silk camisole was layered over a blouse in a clashing pattern; a low-slung handkerchief skirt and crop top were styled with a belly chain.
All in all, the collection bends towards the notion of breaking the rules of classics. Challenging fashion is what moves the industry’s collective story forward and Versace has always been at the forefront of this movement.