Ah Donatella. Never change. Only the house of Versace could build a whole collection around ‘tailoring with a lingerie edge’ and present it with a straight face. And ‘an edge’ my arse – or, more literally, fifty or so perfect model arses, peeking out under non-existent negligees or flashing through minuscule skirt pieces bound together by lacing – the meat and potatoes of this collection was little more than underwear. Donatella offered us pure passé, a throwback to the days where Puff Daddy and his molls were the height of sartorial elegance. All the nostalgic elements were there, from the dated tie-dye and caged stiletto slag-sandals to the look upon look of nightie-like nightwear – do women, other than extras in rap videos, really still dress like this?
Almost every model’s turn on the runway was a variation on the walk of shame. A crushed silk slip dress with peek-a-boo lace detailing was teamed with an oversized manly blazer, giving the illusion that the wearer was tottering home in last night’s club wear. Similarly festival-ready loose fitting ultra-short minis with slashed backs suggested a boyfriend’s shirt, slung on casually after an evening of mischief. Even the billowing maxi dresses had a sprinkle of sluttery thanks to Jodie Marsh-esque belts holding the various swaths of fabric tightly enough to just, and I mean just, protect the models’ modesty.
There’s a wonderful quote in the seminal classic Mean Girls that perfectly summarises the Versace ethos, ‘In Girl World, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.’ Only on the S/S Versace catwalk can clothing that channels Shakira cerca 1999 be legitimately presented as fashion, no quibbles allowed.
This wasn’t one of Donatella’s greatest triumphs – she’s always at her best when she works more creatively within the Gianni framework, designing for strong, confident women rather than just skinny teenage starlets – but it was wondrous to watch her shake off the polish and gloss of previous, more structured, collections in favour of something a little more raw. Clichéd fashionistas regularly refer to collections as ‘so right it’s wrong’ – Christopher Kane, Prada, Rodarte - it’s an easy escape mechanism when analysing a tricky, cerebral showcase. In reality the only heavyweight who really ups the ick factor unrestrained is Donatella. Fashion wouldn’t be the same without her signature near naked models and outlandish embellishments. After all, what is Spring/Summer if not an excuse to loosen up and strip off?