Donatella Versace gone minimal? If it sounds like an experiment in relativism, it was, and a smart one for Versace to undertake at this time. Designers across the luxury spectrum are grappling with the relevance issue: how to make useful clothes that look and feel expensive at a time when their clients’ lifestyles are increasingly casual — and well-designed fast fashion is everywhere. While Versace pondered what wardrobe choices to offer today’s Versace woman, a memo to self crystallized: “Be bold with less.” That led to spring’s template. “I didn’t look back. I tried to strip off all the unnecessary,” she said during a preview.
And strip she did, focusing on simple shapes and graphic details. Her tailoring was clean and stark — black jackets, skirts and pants (and exposed midriffs) outlined in demonstrative white stitching. Structured shift dresses offered a Sixties respite from all-Seventies overload. These worked the charming side of sexy in several variations — laser-cut grids over politely skimpy pastel underpinnings, peekaboo grommet numbers and a feisty print that upsized the house chain and Medusa motifs. Speaking of house codes, Versace applied the Greek key with irreverent precision, sometimes enlarging its sharp angles to splice up and spice up the mood. This was especially appealing in an evening group crafted from color blocks of crystal mesh and organza.
The one area in which Versace didn’t heed her own mandate of less-is-more is: length of show. Appealing though it was, when the message is simplicity, it seldom takes 49 looks to make the point.