Buckle up and put on those Biggie sunglasses because Donatella is roaring into town in her arty black Ferrari, and she’s ready for some fun, Nineties Versace style. Boy, did the designer pile it on for spring, with leopard spots, colored crystals, car prints and Lilly Pulitzer-decamps-to-Miami neon brights. And that was the men’s wear, not the few women’s looks.
Few surfaces in the collection were untouched by print, gloss or sparkle as models glowed and flashed like beacons on a dark road. Bold and garish, the show was 100-proof Versace, utterly true to the brand’s roots, and to the Gianni-cum-Donatella aesthetic of more, more, more — and repeat — preferably while swinging a leopard-print bag.
There was nothing subtle going on here, what with the big Gianni Versace signature splashed over neckties, or picked out in lines of tiny crystals on silk patterned shirts. For anyone wondering who Versace’s new owners are, there were some big clues in the baseball caps and Gianni Versace signature socks, classic entry price merch to please the folks at the publicly quoted Capri Holdings.
While the yellow, orange, green or blue-tinged sunglasses didn’t carry big branding, they were a vintage house style, designed for the Notorious B.I.G. by Gianni Versace himself back in the Nineties. Denim, too, nodded to the past, bearing photo prints of old Versace ads. The bright, swirling paisley and baroque signature prints that covered clingy flare trousers, and the cube-shaped seats for show guests, have been Versace mainstays for decades.
Donatella dedicated the spring outing to her friend Keith Flint of Prodigy, who died last March, and his style was a big influence: As if all that print and sparkle were not enough to turn heads, models sported teal, yellow, hot pink or fire-engine red hair, and strutted in black leather — fringed, paved with silver grommets, or whipstitched into submission.
She was certainly true to her word, arguing during a preview on Friday that the desire of being observed, and watched is “absolutely natural. Every single part of the body can be beautiful.” She said it’s important to exalt “the most beautiful part of you. It’s not about the colors, the shoes…It’s about the attitude.”
For more inspiration, Donatella took the pivotal moment of a young man driving his first car, hence the abstract black Ferrari, awash in purple flowers and rotating at the center of the lilac perspex catwalk, a collaboration with the artist Andy Dixon.
The clothing that sprouted from the car idea included a dazzling dark suit with a shiny red crystal car pattern, tie-dyed logo T-shirts, and lots of hybrid silhouettes. There were oversized plaid-and-denim shirts as well as coats and jackets that were half-black, half-Prince-of-Wales check for all the man-boys who are still growing and figuring out who they are — and how they choose to be beautiful.