Versace PRE-FALL 2020
Donatella Versace does things her way. Just as the fashion system is backing away from the coed show format. She has fiercely decided to put menswear and womenswear together on the catwalk for her fashion show in February. If we needed proof that she is her own woman dancing to the rhythm of her own tune, here it is. But that’s why we like her, don’t we?
Versace’s m.o. is forcefully unpredictable, aligned with the fierce sense of individuality the label stands for. For pre-fall, for example, she placed at the collection’s core not one of the usual sexy signifiers she favors. But a hyper-feminine red rose motif—a symbol of romance, purity, even of transient fragility. The red rose is apparently her favorite flower. What could be more unexpected? But the leopard can’t lose its spots, and the rose was given the Donatella treatment. Blooming for both collections on tailored coats and sharp-cut suits in Prince of Wales or houndstooth checks. It was distorted and twisted, with a slightly dangerous erotic flavor. No hints of fragrant innocence here; the Versace rose has thorns.
Embracing contrasts is a hallmark of the house and it played out for pre-fall in its emphasis on the diversity of the vast Versace tribe; there were plenty of wearable choices for its myriad followers. Versace exploded the idea of urban uniforms in full, with elegant tailoring shown in many iterations, suggesting a less street-y, more sophisticated approach. It alternated with more unisex utility accents and a bold take on rock-and-roll black leather. Tough biker jackets, bustiers, and full pleated miniskirts were punctuated by gold zippers, metallic Medusa buttons, and safety-pin details.
Yet the rose motif was definitely the strongest decorative statement of the collection, a new interpretation of the archival Barocco print. It was given a colorful Pop Art spin in tie-dyed allover prints and sequined embroideries, and it became a sort of floral camouflage rendered in acid hues. Mixed with acanthus leaves, the roses actually looked like hallucinogenic specimens blooming in a psychotropic garden.
Cutting through the floral riot and counterbalancing the visual stimulation, a series of little black dresses (for her) and black tailored suits (for him) demonstrated Versace’s unabashed take on style contradictions. She riffed with gusto on different silhouettes, constructions, and lengths, highlighting versatility without detracting from sleek glamour, keeping the sex quotient high yet widening the shape options. It was Donatella Versace in fine form: assertive and bold, experimenting with a tough, impactful sense of romance.