Donatella Versace viewed Sunday evening’s show as a homecoming to the Ritz Paris, site of so many of Gianni Versace’s couture triumphs. Though admittedly nervous, Donatella wanted to show at the storied location before its lengthy renovation closure in homage to her brother and because she finally found the strength to return. Yet she stressed the modernity of her approach, beginning with the set, a series of three clean mirrored panels that changed color juxtaposed against the grandeur of the pool room.
That counterpoint perfectly captured the mood of the collection, which looked slick and fresh while remaining very much Versace. Donatella is a woman who knows her house and her customers, both celebrity regulars and increasingly, the uberrich ladies who live well to the luxe-loving East of Paris. She knows that couture-by-day is not what those women want from Versace. Rather, they crave that which the house does to perfection: glamour gone flamboyant.
Invoking a motif of deconstruction and reconstruction, Versace went to pieces, literally. Typically starting with a corset, she worked hourglass minis and billowing gowns in seemingly random, finely rendered patchworks of intricate fabrics and racy precision rows of high-gloss patents. If the lineup lacked surprise in terms of silhouette, the fabrics offered plenty of news. Some, such as glittering mesh, descended from house standards; others — silk fused to plastic; glassy, paper-thin chiffons — imparted a futuristic, slyly subversive edge to high-heat gowns in a range of beautiful, girly hues — yellows, blues, pinks, purples. Heightening the visual pop, Versace coopted tarot card elements (Roman numerals; celestial bodies) for her prints. She liked the motif, she said last week, because the cards are conduits to seeing the future. Given this lineup, any fashion Kreskin worth his turban would see plenty of red-carpet stunners — the kind that get morning-after raves — on the Versace horizon.