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Versus’ New Generation

Donatella Versace injected the hard rock’n’roll edge of the Versus of old with a transfusion of high performance sportswear to create a successful contemporary hybrid.
Versus Autumn/Winter 2017 | source: InDigital.tv
By
  • Tim Blanks

LONDON, United Kingdom — Donatella Versace kicked her brand back into top gear with the vision of female empowerment she embraced eighteen months ago for her Spring 2016 collection. "Diversity, power, strength": those words became her mantra.

She repeated them again on Saturday night before the Versus Versace show, but this time it was the young she was looking to. “The unity of a new generation” was Donatella’s dedication for the presentation. “I’m optimistic,” she said of the current political climate. “This won’t last long. Women are emancipated, it’s impossible to go back. And it’s easier for young people to make a statement of resistance.”

Though this collection was hardly a template for urban guerillas everywhere, it did successfully inject the hard rock'n'roll edge of the Versus of old with a transfusion of high performance sportswear to create a contemporary hybrid. The context was a big help. More than any other fashion capital, London has a hyperactive stratum of designers — names like Christopher Shannon, Nasir Mazhar, Bobby Abley and Liam Hodges spring to mind — who are covering similarly tribal turf with their own distinctive signatures: hipslung, slashed, cropped, zippered, bare-midriffed, branded, hyper-graphic, cartoon-ish of colour and texture, exaggerated in volume. Versus showed it all. (Was Paul Hameline wearing a turquoise bathmat?)

The best pieces in the collection were the cropped puffa jackets, printed with a collage of images from old Bruce Weber catalogues for the label. Their scale had a free-to-be-me quality. Printed on tees and sweats, another Weber photo of a male couple kissing made its case for personal freedom.

In a collection that made a stand for unity, Donatella maintained a pretty clear gender division, which was intriguing in a season where there have been some significant statements emphasizing the interchangeability of menswear and womenswear. Here, the fabrics crossed over, but black mesh made a sweatshirt for a boy and a long, sinuous, slit skirt for Bella Hadid. No prizes for guessing who wore it best. Maybe that was just Donatella's reminder that in her world, it will always be women who rule.

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