Donatella Versace certainly knows how to handle shameless sizzle, but she’s no stranger to simmering seduction either. Fall found her squarely in the latter camp, and the result was an engaging collection that exuded sleek restraint without scrimping on glamour.


Versace kicked things off with military precision — a black admiral’s coat with bold, gold hardware that was as chic as it was streamlined. Then came the series of LBDs, rigorously sharp and angular in silhouette, and more jackets and coats that furthered the season’s soldierly vibe. To both, she added a pretty Baroque motif of large-scale swirling floral scrolls in bright purples and yellows. They were wonderfully graphic and a feminine upgrade on last season’s signature Greek key. They came appliquéd, alluringly off-kilter on tight-to-the-body dresses and belted coats, and also cut into a terrific fur trench. Versace then ditched the flora in favor of more abstract terrain in, for instance, wide serpentine stripes in python that snaked around sheaths.


But fall was about more than just pattern plays. The pleated skirts and jackets, cut from hard, thick leather, worked the pretty side of tough chic while — trend alert! — a long white coat sported patchworked fur sleeves. And if Versace showed fewer eveningwear contenders than usual, no matter. The sexy goddess gowns she did send out, with bondage-y busts and gentle feathered trains, were striking, especially one quietly bejeweled stunner that rang 1-800-CALL-ME-OSCARS.

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