A wardrobe malfunction on a hot girl in a sexy dress goes viral, and the collection becomes about that. That’s the world today; anything model-related, especially something involving an “oops” moment, passes for news, embarrassing the girl and minimizing the collection. It’s a particular shame here, because on Friday night Donatella Versace showed a beauty of a collection, smart, strong and not at all of the slinky-into-tawdry range that the dress slippage might suggest.


Moving venues, from her “comfort zone” palazzo on Via Gesù to a vast spaceship of a convention-space building, “inspired me more, to confront myself,” Versace said backstage. That internal confrontation involved tackling the issue omnipresent across the larger industry: how to make luxury relevant on an everyday basis. Versace thus emphasized day clothes to an unprecedented degree, calling the collection “Urban Glam.” “The contemporary woman, she wears a peacoat, she wears a dress with long sleeves. She can be seductive and strong,” she said. Earlier, while meeting with Italian journalists, she put the notion in broader context. “Fashion,” Versace offered, “is not that important that it can change the world. But it can change the empowerment of the woman, in order to make her feel strong and believe more in herself.”


Versace focused on a lean-but-manageable silhouette. She emphasized dresses, both long-sleeved or worn with ribbed gauntlets that looked like stretched-out out athletic socks. Skinny pants that flared slightly above the ankle came in coated jersey to look city-slick with comfort. An athletic inspiration ran throughout in the polished ruggedness of the coats, the emphasis on jersey and ergonomic seaming and cross-stitching. The clothes were beautifully detailed, some color-spliced in black and navy or navy and light blue; some, shot with a single vibrant, ragged-edged stripe running down the length of the dress. One dress featured fractured lines resembling a lightening bolt. Interesting constructions featured hidden zippers, whether in front or fastening asymmetrically configured panels, to be zipped or unzipped as a woman’s mood and situation allow.


The other big direction: prints. Archival baroque swirls came in a pastel-with-black-and-white palette, the pink-and blue prettiness in odd, engaging juxtaposition to the pattern intensity. And speaking of pink and blue, Versace’s furs — divine! Not at all divine, but very much of this world — the collection’s primary shoe, a kitten heel. The very name implies titillation, and Versace worked that allure for maximum impact. But at the end of the day, the low heel is easy to wear, a sensible way to being sensually shod. That’s taking the empowerment agenda in stride.

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