Just when you’re feeling down, and a little bit battered and numbed by fashion in general, and perhaps thinking you’ve lost sight of the point of it all, along comes Donatella Versace to put it to rights. Before we start talking about the way her collection grabbed so many women in parts of themselves they never imagined Versace could reach—even those who like a boyish pant suit and flats—we should refer you to her soundtrack. It was not just an added-on musical theme, but the massively inclusive, confidence-generating “Transition” by Violet and friends. You’ll have to listen to it, but long story short: It’s a call to all women to stop listening to our inner demons and outer detractors, and just get rid of everything which stops us from doing what we really want. “It was made for International Women’s Day,” said Donatella Versace, backstage. “And when I heard it, I was so sure of myself. I wanted to challenge myself, to do something strong.”
Which is surely the main reason she came up with the image of combat which marched through her show—a reflection of the all-too-many wars which are raging now, maybe, but also of the resolution of her battle with herself to throw away self-imposed restraints, and just get on with making Versace relevant.
Relevant? We must now move toward thinking about what that oft-repeated, never-defined, and rather terrifying word means. Perhaps “relevance” is emotionally felt in fashion when it’s clear that it’s not just for one type of very thin, very young white girl; when it also represents on behalf of color, booty, and admirable women who are just a weensy bit more experienced than eighteen. And apart from that? When it comes to design, relevance in fashion also relates to where on earth the clothes are actually supposed to be worn. Can many people find things to put on daily? Or are we all going to continue to believe in the fiction that living in today’s world is one long cocktail reception?
Donatella Versace addressed all that by showing a collection which never ditched the beloved character of her family’s house, but concentrated mostly on varying shades of daywear, shown on an inclusive cast of characters. The opening looks, all legs, with khaki tailored jackets cinched with webbing belts over micro shorts, above vertigenous platforms, were no surprise. What came next was: The Versacehouse print gone wild in punchy green camouflage tailored suits with slouchy boy-cut pants, collaged into knits and sweatshirts and swinging along in the form of backpacks—all (amaze!) walking out on clogs and sporty slides.
It would not be Versace without an injection of sexiness—a quality which has been so out of fashion recently that many designers appear terrified of it. This time, Donatella Versace did show some of the requisite chiffon, fluttery, spilt-to-the-thigh gowns, but the little, curvy, slashed and knotted dresses which came before them were far more interesting, shown as they were on girls striding out on what amounted to decorated clogs. It was a triumph which turned boredom into excitement and alienation into a visceral desire to shop. Whatever forces Donatella Versace was fighting to reach this new point of clarity, she won. Written by Sarah Mower for Vogue.com