VERSACE: BODY HEAT

Let all the other designers panic at the thought of a new couture superstar. Gianni Versace is sticking to his smoking gun--and his loud music. And he's taken all the ladylike clothes from his past couture collections, which always seemed a little forced anyway, and locked them in the closet. So this season, if you like leather, lace and a lot of attitude, Gianni's your man.
Socialites in little gilt chairs have never had a place at Versace. But rock stars chased by packs of paparazzi certainly do--and they were out in force. The front row boasted Sting and his wife, Trudie Styler, Jon Bon Jovi and Bryan Ferry, while the soundtrack was specially composed and performed by Elton John and remixed by Frederic Sanchez. Although there was nothing as provocative as last season's "Pussy Control" from Prince, the songs, especially "The Bitch Is Back," were great.
And, indeed, the bitch is back! Versace's girls love leather skirts with lace insets--and lace skirts with leather insets--wild printed stockings and even wilder animal prints. A lot of these ideas Versace used in his ready-to-wear, which means that--at least for him --couture has finally come full circle: Rather than starting trends, Versace's couture clothes are deluxe takes on his other collections, especially his hip and happening Versus line.
Gianni himself described this collection as "aggressive." And these are certainly not clothes for shrinking violets--unless you think a ball gown with a zebra-print bodice, tiger-print skirt and blinding pumps wouldn't make you scream in a crowd. Or how about the sheerest lace dresses worn under fierce leather jackets? This may not have been Versace's best collection ever, but you can be sure that, within moments, the knockoffs will be out in force.

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