Metamorphosis: A provocative motif for Donatella Versace to work at this particular moment, as speculation mounts that her house may be in talks with Riccardo Tisci about metamorphosing his employment situation.
Yet that was the theme of the Atelier Versace collection installed for the next three days on the second floor of the house’s boutique on the Avenue Montaigne. If Versace is mulling stepping aside or in some other way altering her role to make room for her close friend Tisci, her reasons must have nothing to do with creative block, because through several rounds of couture and ready-to-wear, the work has shone. Versace’s spring couture collection continues on that path.
Unlike last season, however, in which she focused some attention on haute chic by day, and her luxe takes on everyday reality for rtw, here, Versace did nothing of the sort. There was no attempt at modernist musing and reinventions in terms of silhouette and purpose. Rather, this was an audacious exhibit of event dressing the Versace way, which is say to high glam, high heat and high impact, right in time for awards season.
Intentionally, or otherwise, the Metomorphosis ruse played out in the shift from runway to static installation — a concept intended to make the whole process “more client friendly,” according to Marc Hellmuth, head of the Atelier design team, who guided press through the presentation. Turns out, it made great sense, the better to see the sublime work by the Versace atelier. The collection incorporated four sub motifs — knots, pleats, metal and chimera, those mythic beats of cross-species lineage, sometimes incorporating more than one of the themes in a single dress.
Most silhouettes were variations on the hourglass mermaid, always with a counterpoint of textural intensity with lightness — a dress in gradations of black made for a sensual Rorschach test of swerves and curls crafted from knots of leather, metal and various silks. Gold and pink metal mesh draped into a sinuous goddess number. And a rare ballgown, a wonder of dusty blue-gray pleated tulle, was constructed over a boned cage frame lavishly embroidered with metal mesh arranged in clean geometric lines, in counterpoint to the ebullience of the silhouette.
All designed to project from the red carpet, for sure. Yet Versace has sights beyond the celebrity set. To give more than lip service to making couture “client-friendly,” she’s sending this collection on the road, to Hong Kong and New York — glamour gone global.