Versace in all its baroque, body-con glory isn’t the first brand you’d think would go grunge. But this is where we were for fall 2019. The Nineties are alive and well on the Milan runways, from the Kurt Cobain-reverent grandpa cardigans at Tod’s on Friday morning, to the fugly platform clodhoppers at Bottega Veneta in the afternoon, to Versace’s mosh moment Friday night, staged on a runway with Disneyland-worthy, safety-pin set pieces as further reminder of the 1994 dress that put the Italian fashion house on the pop culture map.
“The way we live today, online and in Instagram, it’s not really right. There’s a need for a little imperfection,” offered Donatella Versace during a collection preview, where it must be said, she didn’t have a blonde hair out of place.
Not so on the runway, where the models’ hair was wet-look matted and pinned with Versace barrettes, just one example of the staggering amount of merch to come out in the collection, the first the designer has shown since selling last year to the American-owned, Michael Kors-fronted Capri Holdings for $2.2 billion.
With a Nirvana soundtrack blaring, all of the Versace house codes were filtered through the grunge blender and more, from sexy and strappy bondage bustier gowns worn with lacy slips or thigh-high stockings, to the famous house prints splashed on quilted jackets for mama; acid-bright socks, tights and sneakers for daughter.
The brand’s tailoring heritage was channeled into tweed lady jackets overlaid with silk bondage straps, and miniskirts with raw edges worn with distressed cashmere sweaters. More luxurious-feeling were coats in a new Barocco-style “V” Lurex jacquard, and red-carpet-ready silk dresses and gowns with criss-crossing gold chains draped down sexy backs. A new handbag line, Virtus, also made its debut, jangling Greek keys, safety pins and other charms, including one in honor of the designer’s Insta-famous pooch, Audrey Versace.
Not forgetting Donatella herself is an icon of the house, there was a T-shirt with her image, a portrait shot by Richard Avedon for the 1995 Blonde fragrance campaign, and released in collaboration with the Avedon Foundation. The American photographer lensed more than 30 campaigns for Versace over the course of 20 years. The Blonde campaign also inspired glitzy, jewel-embroidered cocktail dresses, and ladylike silk perfume bottle print shirts and slip skirts that didn’t smell like teen spirit at all. But the brand is gunning for the megabrand leagues now, and there must be something for all ages.
Including models! Versace is a house that was built by Nineties supermodels, and in a season when designers have been somewhat obsessed with them, the designer brought a Versace original to join Kaia and Bella on the catwalk: Stephanie Seymour shut it down in a slinky, black crystal mesh gown with bondage strap details. One of Gianni’s original muses, she looked bombshell flawless.