“The Clans of Versace” — Donatella Versace’s fall collection was, according to the opening quote of her show notes, an ode to women who “know that today nothing is acquired through birth, but rather earned through what they achieve.”
A lovely thought, and powerful, but complicated to express via clothes on a runway — even if you hadn’t cast Kaia Gerber. No knock on Kaia. She’s a beautiful girl who, in a short time, has become a very good model. But one would be hard-pressed to miss the irony between the show’s stated platform and Kaia’s casting.
Such is the dilemma of deep-thoughts messaging on the runway: Little details can prove awkward. Happily, not so for the clothes themselves in Versace’s follow-up to last season’s supermodel scarf-print spectacular. On Friday night, Versace showed a flamboyant, feisty collection, her “clans” construct imposing unity on several disparate ideas. She baited the youth vote with timed-honored tartans, her take descended as much from Vivienne Westwood’s Worlds End as the Highlands: varsity mufflers, sweaters and kilts, all wantonly mismatched and pieced together in pretty-in-punk pilings. For evening, these morphed into a black bustier over logo T and zany, pouffed-out skirt — a delightful take on bad-girl glam.
Yet girls are not the brand’s core constituency, nor luxury’s. Versace took a more adult, though no less overt, turn with bodycon sensuality in high-intensity print mixes, sometimes head-to-toe — ultra-bright abstracts over swirling, black-and-white Ts and leggings. The latter had nothing on a pair of crystal-beaded, fringed over-the-knee boots that accessorized a black power-woman dress. It made for a moment of unabashed Eighties homage, in all its strong-shouldered, cinched-waist-with-hardware glory.
Versace’s clanswomen have calmer tendencies as well. A trio of slinky black dresses worn with headscarves percolated steam beneath the surface, while a pair of impeccable camel coats provided savvy, high-chic respite from so much optic verve.
Whether we’ll ever see Donatella herself in camel, who knows? But the woman can sure rock a pair of tight tartan pants.