With 15 models in high-glam tableau mode posing on gold foil steps, 3-D arcs of aluminum snaking variously around hip, shoulder or bodice, Donatella Versace’s return to the couture spotlight on Monday played like the Invasion of the Space Sirens, haute edition.
Versace never stopped designing and selling couture, but she hadn’t shown it to the press in several years. Her return now felt right, she said, because “it’s important in this kind of economy to send the message that fashion is relevant.” Her desire to do so via a small presentation backfired a bit. Editors who showed up early got to slip into the photographers’ session; many of those who didn’t later complained about the indignities of the seat-less event.
With its high-sparkle, sexy pizzazz, this collection had two primary targets: the Hollywood awards set (Versace’s most recent coup was Angelina Jolie at the Golden Globes) and a solid, growing client base in Russia, Hong Kong and “of, course, the Middle East.” Fashionable women in such markets, Versace said, don’t shy away from flamboyance when it’s time to dress up. She played to both constituencies by putting an Eighties-futuristic spin on the classic corseted column.
Though too lanky to mimic the Glamazon aura of their supermodel elders, Versace’s girls certainly got the glam part of the equation, working their reed-thin gowns and an occasional cocktail shaker and biker jacket look to a sparkly T, even while negotiating those treacherous stairs in tricked-out footwear better suited to a flatter plane. The gowns came mostly in pale silver and gold with hot citrus tones mixed in. They had corselet constructions, often with intricately seamed over-layers in lace or other transparencies, all lavishly embroidered in materials from the traditional (crystals) to the au courant (PVC discs). Versace chose the latter embellishments to drive home her starting point, “the contemporary world.”
Yet stated inspiration and Eighties allusions aside, her lineup had a timeless feel that was good — and not so. In line with a major red-carpet archetype, the gowns should prove exceedingly telegenic. Secondly, not even the most self-indulgent (or luckiest) couture client wants to buy a gown that’s here today and gone next season. But after Versace’s recent absence from the calendar, one hoped for a return with a little more news.