It’s pretty apt that Donatella Versace chose to stage her Versus show in the unglamorous, yet somehow epic Olympia Conference Centre in Kensington. It’s a place for large scale trade shows or performances. And that’s just what this was. Forget the discreet venues or gorgeous historical locations other designers have tapped for their locations - a Versace show is not a fashion show, it’s a performance, a pop culture happening. This is, after all, the brand that have tapped singer Zayn Malik, formerly of One Direction fame, to design a collection. Not this collection - the future of Versus remains unclear after a run of good designers used it as a springboard - Anthony Vaccarello, Jonathan Anderson, Christopher Kane.
Keeping things cliquey, Malik’s girlfriend Gigi Hadid opened the show. Her sister Bella wrapped it up. The world of ultra modern celebrity has firmly penetrated the house of Versace. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given fashion’s aggressive commercialisation of issues, this classic example of celebrity-brand relations had been presented as something political or urgent; ‘the unity of a new generation – the Versus Versace generation,’ read the press release. Donatella continued, ‘Fashion has the power to send out a message of hope and unity, especially to the new generation. Versus is about passion, optimism and a fierce statement of equality.’
Unity is an interesting way of understanding this collection. It wasn’t daring, or challenging. Good product - largely sexy micro dresses and small injections of sportswear - was central. It was for everyone - easy to understand, easy to buy, if you’ve got the money. And Gigi does bring a certain level of unity, under her umbrella of thirty million Instagram followers she brings together woman and girls from all over the world, ready and waiting to ‘steal her style’ or hear her tips. If Versus can unify them and get them spending then the performance is all worthwhile.