If you were wondering where the early nineties revival would go next, tonight provided a sure-fire answer: the diffusion line, namely the time when Versace's three lines (Versace, Versus and Istante) dominated the Milanese show-schedule. Today, for the first time since she shuttered the label a decade ago, Donatella Versace presented a Versus collection, created under the direction of leading Londoner Christopher Kane, a natural choice given the admiration both have expressed for their respective work. Drawing inspiration not only from the Versace archives, but Kane's own past body of work (there were more than a few shades of his graduation collection and first London Fashion Week show to be seen), the clothes were strictly focussed: well-above the knee dresses (and a single suit) in black, red, and a tawny, honeyed tan the exact shade of Versace customers' flesh. The frocks cleverly hit on key trends, with cut-outs slicing through bodices, lace frothing at hem and neckline and lingerie-like delicacy abounding. Kane even managed to reinvent the questionable concept of the dress-shield (please, google it) as de rigeur adornment - lace-veiled and spaghetti-strapped, they looked great. At the same time, he retained a distinct Versace signature, cleverly reviving the idea of branding by snapping his frocks, shoes and bags together with many a Medusa-head safety-pin in homage to Versace's 'S&M' collection and all things Liz Hurley circa 1992. This would make an older consumer shudder, but the young girls who will buy this collection were, depressingly, probably not even born first time around. This was a 'diffusion' line in the truest sense of the word: many of the frocks could have comfortably sat in the mainline Versace collection, particularly a perky number with gored skirt, sliced-out midriff and bodice smothered with chainmail. Maybe that's indicative of Kane's influence at the Versace atelier, but it raised a difficult question: where exactly does this collection stand? With the high-street adeptly copying high-fashion wares almost immediately, designers are pushing their manufacture and detailing to couture-levels, with prices to match. This leaves the bridge line in a difficult position - after all, why buy a still-expensive watered-down version when you can get a comparable copy for a fraction of the price? For this collection at least, Kane needn't worry. You could add a zero to their price-tags and these dresses would still sell in droves.
The frocks cleverly hit on key trends, with cut-outs slicing through bodices, lace frothing at hem and neckline and lingerie-like delicacy abounding.