How do you top a triumphal tribute show that will go down as one of the most spectacular fashion moments of this era? It isn’t easy, not even for a risk-taker like Donatella Versace. Having considered all of her options for Pre-Fall, the lady of the house decided to go home.
Of course, home for Versace isn’t a two-bedroom flat, but a stately palazzo on Milan’s Via Gesù. The Versace siblings bought the noble mansion when they were basically kids – very young, talented, ambitious kids from Southern Italy. And the powerful Medusa’s head was right there, as if waiting, a decorative mosaic smack in the middle of the courtyard. Clearly, it was fate.
Versace Casa was the home collection inspired by Gianni’s love of baroque statuary and mythological imagery. Who can forget Richard Avedon’s 1995 campaign featuring Claudia Schiffer and Nadja Auermann in a state of glorious undress save for their huge silk blankets covered in golden curlicue? Or a stark-naked Sylvester Stallone, hiding his attributes behind a bone china Versace dinner plate decorated with Baroque friezes? Let’s just say that Gianni never lacked guts, and Donatella has clearly inherited them in spades.
She referenced the home collection for Pre-Fall as a kind of emotional coming-back to her family roots. Gianni’s legacy remains so powerful that it connects the label with a new generation of customers who weren’t yet born when he was alive. Next year, they’ll wait in line to buy the cool sneakers printed with a revamped Versace logo, and they’ll probably wear them with a full-on printed look: pleated miniskirt, men’s shirt slit at the shoulders, and leggings.
Sharp tailoring is Donatella’s cup of tea. Here, she indulged in contrasts, mixing the opulent with the strict, the unruly with the controlled. Baroque and Neoclassical prints exploded on tight dresses, oversize sweaters, city coats, and abbreviated padded bombers, but she kept the energy surplus in check with streamlined, uncomplicated shapes. Black was a healthy counterbalance to such abundant chromatic stimulation; the sensuality of dévoré velvet gave fluid pajama suits a soft touch.
Still, the collection was a decorative tour de force; swirls and curlicues were embroidered with Swarovski crystals on net tulle leggings and bodysuits that exuded a steaming sex appeal. Very Versace, indeed. To borrow a line from the press notes, “Lie back, relax, and cause trouble.”
This article first appeared in Vogue.com