Haute Couture is the best reason for a cultured house like Atelier Versace to experiment and Donatella went an unprecedented route this season – luxurious daywear. She opened and closed with two epic models, Kristen McMenamy and Stella Tennant, respectively. McMenamy opened wearing a black wool pant-suit threaded in real gold pinstripes and 24-carat gold epaulets. It was almost wondrous, save for the dastard cuffs that threatened to malign every look thereafter. Donatella Versace took her bow at curtain call wearing a near replica of that same suit, barring the epaulets and the cuffs. Once seen on Versace, it made one wish that that same consideration for editing had been taken into account for the show itself. It’s clear she’s still catching her footing in haute couture, and unfortunately, it sometimes means she gives way to a surfeit of shellac, but threaded gold pinstripes is a damn good start.
The first half of the show was sneakily more posh than the first glance warrants. You have to chock it up to styling , like those cuffs for example, which mired many a look with a smack of cheapness (on a couture runway no less!) . But in truth, there was nothing remotely pedestrian about Joan Smalls’ gold pinstripe sheath with fox fur shoulders and a brilliant sheer tulle cut out panel curved around the solar plexus. But even that beauty wasn’t the night’s pièce de résistance. That honor goes to the slightly Balmain-y gold metal blazer, worn as a dress, sans pants on Vika Falileeva. It goes without saying it will land on a cover or two.
It wouldn’t be Versace without some heavy-duty red carpet fodder and there was plenty of that on offer, courtesy of column dresses bonded at the neck and extending to the decolletage with zips and neon rubber piping. The effect was much niftier than it had any right to be. A black sheer gown encrusted in jet-beading was as classical as Versace got here; it’s a shame she didn’t stay on that track. The closing trapeze and mullet dresses in shocking neon chiffon didn’t feel off-kilter for Versace, just off-kilter for couture, despite the workmanship. Perhaps that’s why Versace positioned Stella Tennant way at the end of the procession. When that alluring maypole walked out in a citron laminated silk gown, suddenly, you believed it.