Donatella Versace may have been ahead of the curve in more ways than one. The designer in late 2014 turned the Versus collection into a buy-now, wear-now line, removing it from the traditional fashion show calendar and tapping Anthony Vaccarello as its creative director. Vaccerello is now said to be in pole position to succeed Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent.
Here, in exclusive comments to WWD, Versace gives her view of the move toward consumer-facing shows:
“I hate the past. I’ve always been excited about the future, about what is yet to come. I’m impatient. I get bored easily. I want to know what’s going to happen next. It was true when I was a teenager, ready to take on the world, and it’s true now that I’m an artistic director, a business woman. I am always looking forwards — the future is everything to me.
“Right now in fashion, the future is all anyone can talk about. The Internet and social media have changed everything. The old systems are collapsing. For many people, they find it terrifying. They want everything in fashion to stay the same, as if smartphones had never been invented. I am the opposite. I cannot remember a time when fashion has been as exciting as it is today.
“The biggest change is how we connect with you, the people who love fashion. Never before have you had greater access to fashion, whether it is the catwalk shows you can watch on live-stream, or the pieces you’ve always dreamed of being delivered straight to your home through e-commerce. Suddenly, you have the power. The doors of fashion used to be closed to everyone apart from the very few. Now those doors have been thrown open.
“It’s like a total revolution in fashion. A few seasons ago, I changed Versus Versace into a ‘see-now, buy-now, wear-now’ brand for the Internet generation. Straight after our catwalk show, we made the collection immediately available online.
“The new generation who have grown up with the Internet doesn’t understand why it should wait six months before it can buy what it sees online. It’s why for my spring 2016 collection, we made the amazing sequined backpacks available straight away. For me as a designer it’s amazing — I love to see people react so immediately to my work.
“Change is happening, whether people like it or not. Seeing the passion that young people have for Versace is one of the biggest pleasures of my career. These young people around the world who like the pictures on my Instagram and leave their comments — they’re the luxury consumers of the future. They are the ones who are causing the changes in fashion, and will help write fashion’s future. Young people in control? I think it’s amazing.
“What will the future of fashion look like? We might find out sooner than many people thought possible. It feels like the beginning of a massive shift, one that will change everything in the entire industry. But why are people so scared? Look at the music industry. The Internet has caused a revolution in the music industry and yet people are still making incredible tracks. It’s the same, but different.
“This is how it will be in fashion. As a designer, I’ll still keep pushing myself forward, still keep thinking about what the Versace man or woman needs, and how their lives are changing and how their wardrobe is changing with it. I’m never satisfied, and always want to see what more I can do. This is my job as artistic director at Versace, and this will not change.
“But what will change is how we connect with our customers around the world. How we interact, how you shop, how you get involved in fashion in ways that were unimaginable before. It makes life so exciting. Fashion is about moving forward.
“When people say fashion is moving too fast, I think we have to move faster and plan the future together.”