Donatella Versace is on a roll. A group of sculptures lit in lilac, at the centre of the runway, provided a visual reference point for the 'purple patch' she is in right now.
The last two seasons have seen a modern ease-up at Versace, as sportswear, wearability and lightness of volume have all billowed and released the past - and allowed a more dynamic yet relaxed air to come into the house.
A/W 17 is the first Autumn/Winter collection, which is a part of the new shift. It felt gothic, sci-fi inflected and put together - yet still fresh, sporty and modern. The models' hair was worn wet and gelled forward. Unpolished and subversive, it spoke of a confident young energy coming through in the house. It reminded one of a time when J.W. Anderson had his male models wear black wigs combed in hair gel. Here at Versace, one long haired model looked like they had literally jumped out of the shower and onto the street. Spontaneous and no fuss - not two things you would traditionally associate with Versace.
Red and black plaid down jackets (I can't say the word puffs one more time), and black PVC gloves felt Twin Peaks dark. Sometimes the black PVC gloves came with matching trousers. It was terrifyingly chic - and unnervingly calculating. Like American Psycho meets The Matrix. It definitely felt very filmic at times, but I think great menswear often does. Hiking sneakers, hand knitted jumpers - and the show notes' declaration that positive affirmations and messages had been stitched inside garments juxtaposed the super slick with the emotional.
A white photographic print on a jacket was of a Greek status, reminding one of last season's Renaissance vibe at Versace menswear. This pinning or printing of references past and present onto clothes is again a very low brow/high brow way of producing luxury fashion items. Raf Simons in spirit, it also speaks of Versace's desire to possibly loosen up - and let us in on an artistic process.
Red leather and nylon were key fabrics. Again, a juxtaposition of taste and hybridised sensibilities were at large. Further historic references came from a seriously ornate baroque silk print. It kind of looked like a stairway to Versace heaven - and sort of subversively like Michael Jackson's Dangerous album cover.
Donatella said in the show notes that the purpose of the collection was to: 'bring together different tribes of Versace men, and the powerful positivity that can happen when different from different places she cultures come together'. The casting was definitely on point, it was racially inclusive, fresh, and powerful. The African prints and textiles also added artisan clout. If Donatella carries on this way, Versace might just end up attracting a new modern man.