MILAN, Italy — The womenswear collection that Donatella Versace showed in September for Spring 2016 was far and away the most powerful statement she has made since taking the reins at the house her brother founded. Fabulous, yes, but it raised the bar incredibly high for her men’s presentation on Saturday night. Could she sustain the momentum?
Early warning signs said yes. In total darkness, luminescent maze runners sprinted through the venue, running into the future. What followed was an endlessly surprising blend of what’s been and what will be. There were big soft-shouldered coats in classic menswear fabrics and there were silver-foiled astronaut-ready shearlings. There were lean Mad Men suits and there were pieces lathered with grommets and mechanical bits, like a futuristic Dr Frankenstein was trying to make The Perfect Man. The jewellery could have been souvenirs from the 1964 World’s Fair. The mood was Gattaca, a future that was familiar and yet still laced with enough alien-isms to have a kick. One outfit matched comfy wooly mitts to a metallic leather shirt. Another did the same thing with felt.
A female voice intoned V-E-R-S-A-C-E on the soundtrack, cool, robotic. And yet Donatella also showed an item as decadently present as a duffel coat in a lilac wool that was all but edible. A poignant moment of Bowie's Space Oddity closed the show. High tech, high touch, old world, brave new world. There was something so supremely confident about the way the designer mashed it all together that, in tandem with the women’s show last season, you could only wonder at what sea change she must have suffered.
Donatella’s clearly feeling free as a bird. And she’s taking Versace on the roll of its life.