If fashion needed further proof that everyday clothes are in the spotlight this season, it came at the Versace spring/summer show at Milan fashion week on Friday evening. The brand, so associated with the glamour of gowns, showed only two evening dresses. Less than a month after designing Angelina Jolie's wedding dress, Donatella Versace is coming down to earth.
The collection felt as if it was aimed at a younger market – girlish as opposed to womanly – with a 60s space-age feel to some of the designs. This is usually a show primarily of dresses, but on Friday there were a lot of separates – wide T-shirts worn over shirts with miniskirts, a tunic and cropped trousers, a crop top and mid-thigh shorts. Dresses, when they were included, were short, boxy and with sheer panelling. Cutouts were a recurring theme – across laser-cut accessories and with round porthole detailing. Colours contrasted sugared almond shades – candyfloss pink, duck-egg blue and icing-sugar white – with tomato red, turquoise and black, for a punchy combination.
The designs reprised the Greek Key frieze motif originally created by Gianni Versace in the 80s, here oversized and abstract, and also on the waistband of pants seen peeking out from the waistband of loose trousers. The result was heritage reworked for the Insta-generation.
Ahead of her show, Versace told the Guardian: "I am feeling confident because it [the collection] is not complicated, but it is strong. This is a new Versace."
She explained that the focus on daywear was part of this new era – as a way to distinguish between ready-to-wear and couture, the four-figure gowns shown in Paris in July, and aimed, arguably, at the red carpet market. "Evening dresses take away the freshness of the collection," she said.
Versace wouldn't be Versace without a party frock – this season they came short and dripping in Swarovski crystals – but the first half of the show did indeed give the idea of daywear a good go. Here were clothes that didn't demand a high-octane occasion. The sporty-influenced first look – a black tailored jacket, cropped top and miniskirt with longer side panels – chimed with the way city-dwelling young women all over the world dress now. Suiting was just about office-friendly, while the T-shirt with a scarf print over a laser-cut shirt looked smart and wearable. A bag with pockets for phone, pen and other life essentials was dubbed "utility" by Versace – never mind that it came in a distinctly non-utility shade of candyfloss pink.
This bag – and others like it – will be available to buy in the new Versace accessories-only store, in Milan's historic shopping arcade, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The investment of .6m in the project – and m in the restoration of the 1865 arcade – seems likely to pay off. Accessories now account for 50% of Versace's revenue, up from 20% in 2009. This is part of a wider expansion programme looking towards an IPO in three to five years' time. Blackstone Group took a 20% stake in Versace in February this year, when the brand was valued at around .4bn.
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