The way a fundamentalist believes in redemption or a Buddhist monk in karma, that’s how Donatella Versace believes in glamour. To the core. Glamour is not superficial; Lord knows, it’s not accidental. For her couture collection, Versace wanted “to go back to real glamour,” the kind that pulsed through the photographs of Horst and Man Ray, “that black-and-white era,” the designer said during a preview, “where everything [was perfect]. The photography was perfect. The lighting was perfect, the hair was perfect, the makeup was perfect. It was all always to perfection,” until somewhere along fashion’s course, deliberately imperfect became the new perfect.
Why be merely chagrined when you can fight back?
Versace did so with a luxed-up celebration of the house heat. She sent the message loud and clear from the start, opening with one of the greatest runway glamazons of all time, Naomi Campbell. (Can Naomi hold her own amidst the teenagers? What do you think?)
Loathe to send a retro message, Versace delivered her signature steam with an au courant focus on surface interest — often more than one might think even the best ateliers could pack into clothes that fit like a second skin. The materials could not have been more luxe. One, an embroidery of micro sequins used as fabric, was often shown in combination with other textures. A tony (albeit over-the-top) triumph: a mink-lined, Medusa-cinched croc coat with sequined sleeves and back. There were also collages of leather, mink and tulle embroideries; see-through swathes spliced into silk cady and Cher-worthy midriff evening looks, all playing into the designer’s motif of “conceal and reveal.”
Of course, this being Versace, the emphasis was on the latter, whether via the curvy silhouettes, sheer insets or demonstrative hook-and-eye ladder closures (sometimes finished with giant “diamond” studs) that often replaced seams. These were sometimes opened with feigned randomness for an ample glimpse of bustier lace or an up-to-there show of leg.
Once or twice, Versace overrevealed, as with a silly pair of Vegas-ready cat suits. But the dark, even sober shine of Versace’s palette — deep blue, green, burgundy, ostensibly inspired by gemstones — added moody nuance. The overall result was an elegant rendering of Versace’s sexy vernacular.