MILAN, Italy — The perks of being Donatella Versace: Bruce Weber makes the movie that goes with your new show, Prince records the soundtrack. Five months before he died, Prince sent Donatella the music she used in her menswear presentation today, revisiting classics — in his new Kiss, it was Desperate Housewives, not Dynasty, you didn’t have to watch to have an attitude — and dropping something unreleased. Irresistible Bitch sounded like a salient tribute to Donatella’s renaissance. She wore purple in tribute.
But if she has carved herself new turf with the ballsiness of her women’s collections, Donatella went in the opposite direction with her latest menswear. It’s not the right moment to exalt hyper-masculinity. The world’s in the toilet because of it. Better to acknowledge the vulnerability of men, their insecurity and their powerlessness in the face of a world that has no future unless it’s a woman’s world. And how that yielded a strong fashion statement will probably be one of the paradoxes of the season.
The key item in the collection was a billowing nylon wind coat, floating around the body like a nomad’s robe. The colours were nomadic too: khaki, sand, the purple and navy of a desert sky at night. And the clothes were simple to match — t-shirts, knits knotted at the waist, jackets worn shirtless, hiking sandals with everything.
It was a fluid, sensuous collection, an of-the-minute revamp of the libertine sensibility that defined Gianni’s Versace in its heyday. The curious stabs at collar-and-tie formality looked well out of place. So did the creamy leather jacket, even with its slashes and studs. No, this was a suedecollection, soft, textured, elasticated. The sheer scale of the presentation was very much in the vein of Versace’s current confident grandiosity, but that is more an accurate reflection of how Donatella feels about women. Her shaven-headed boys are simply her servants.