MILAN, Italy — Continuity: that’s the byword that sums up the Versace Pre-Fall collection. It was also the brief Donatella Versace gave to her design team. The template for this collection was definitively set at the brand's Spring/Summer 2016 show — in which a sharper, unabashedly sexy Versace woman paraded through a raw industrial space, in a commanding, martial kind way. It was the Versace ethos elevated to the nth degree, yet purified of the unnecessary, frilly ephemera. The cut, fabric and studious embellishment delivered the statement— no gilded distraction needed.
Indeed, Pre-Fall 2016 started precisely where Spring left off: assertive outerwear and sportswear-inspired pieces, engineered construction and sharp tailoring, all with an openly metropolitan vibe. The collection notes boldly declared: "Versace on the streets," heralding an urban wardrobe for today’s powerful woman. And, truth be told, this was streetwear as seen through the Versace prism: one where scratches are not real scratches but prints on lavish satin, mended sweaters hide careful intarsia constructions and lace-up boots come with tall, chunky heels. The collection’s sporty vibe was palpable, and made for a progressive intersection of body-conscious and functional styles. Fitted cutout mini-dresses had the performance precision of a scuba suit, while dropped-shoulder bombers created decisive silhouettes. Hints of mannish tailoring were combined with Versace's take on deconstruction, through patchworks of fabrics inspired by the inside constructions of tailored items.
If shapes felt a bit familiar — this is a pre-collection, after all — fabric research was the standout point. A rubberised flowery print on masculine wools looked fresh, while the scratch motifs oozed desirability. The pastel section, all intarsia and jolly femininity, was something of a faux pas in this sense: it felt like old Versace. What really stood out was the idea of womanly, sombrely-hued militarism.
If fashion is having an affair with the rawness of the underground (Vetements, anyone?) — look no further than Versace for one of the sexiest and most powerful interpretations.