The Versus collection is unique in the fashion lexicon, straddling London and Milan fashion weeks, a bridge between Christopher Kane's generation and the history of Versace, all at an accessible price-point. It's a match made in fashion heaven.
This season, all three lines seem in synergy, examining the dark side of contemporary fashion but each with its own distinct voice. If the mainline Versace collection pushed the levels of expense and luxury to new extremes, Versus was diffusion in the truest sense of the word. It referenced back to Christopher Kane's London show, a trashy affair that wilfully chafed against the boundaries of received good taste. But Kane's label reinvented the sleazy aesthetics of his fabrics in deluxe finishes, whereas the lower price point of Versus means that trash is somewhat closer to home. Recreating cheap finishes in (relatively) cheap fabrics just doesn't fly.
Some of this Versus show looked great. The opening exits in burgundy were polishes, the criss-cross lacing a cunning reference back to the lattice that nibbled through slip dresses in the Versace mainline. There was a baroque extravagance too to the geometric patterns that smothered dresses with matching thigh-high boots. But the all-over shocking-pink sequin number grated, as did the tie-dye in acidic yellow or denim blue, shredded across the breasts like many a tatty, ratty garm cluttering the sale rail in a backwater boutique, whether that boutique be in Kane's Glasgow or Donatella's Milano. They felt a little too close to the bone, and not terribly on the money for a show closing the penultimate day of Milan fashion week. After reinventing the Versace mainline signatures for the mass-market for H&M, its uncertain if those mass-market (emphasis on 'market', in the very British sense of the term) reappropriations can be elevated to high fashion via a diffusion line. The term 'cheap' can be a double-sided sword, especially in fashion.