By Nikki Kaur, April 15, 2020
The Italian powerhouse, synonymous with being loud, colorful, and campy, has been through its fair share of ups and downs. From the tragic death of Gianni Versace to financial struggles in 2000. However, the one thing that remained consistent was the fashion darling! With all their troubles they never lost their Italian glamour, brand DNA or celebrity affiliations. And it seems to be bigger than ever today all thanks to the game changing collection that is Spring Summer 2018.
Yes, 2018 was the year Versace went viral and 2019 was the year Versace was unstoppable. A number of substantial happenings collided together to bring Versace back to the forefront of conversation. It all started with the brilliant SS18 collection by Donatella as a Tribute to her brother. An outstanding homage to Gianni’s signature work including luxurious, busy prints and pop art. However, the pièce de résistance was when the curtains pulled back to reveal the OG supermodels, that’s right OG not IG! Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Helena Christensen and Carla Bruni standing on a podium draped in Versace looking like certified money, c’est magnifique! They bounded down the runway behind Donatella while George Michael's "Freedom! '90" played. It almost seemed that we had been transported back to the 90’s when the four supers walked arm-in-arm down the catwalk. A to-die-for moment! Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid who?
All eyes were back on classic Versace and this only heightened with the release of FX’s "The Assassination of Gianni Versace", the show provided us with stunning visuals and the character costumes were sublime! From silk pajamas and robes to printed shirts and studded belts. Plus who could forget Donatella in that Versace bondage dress and Gianni is the studded leather shirt? It was iconic and showcased what 90’s dreams were made of! Then with all this Versace swirling around in the fashion atmosphere, along comes Kim K to the 2018 Met Gala in custom chain mail Versace gown which looked like liquid on her body. It was a heavenly match up, which coincidently was the theme- Heavenly Bodies. And the start of a Kim K’s obsession with all things Versace, especially vintage. She raided the archives and has even been sporting some 90's runway looks- even stealing Naomi’s. Single White Female anybody?
The celebrity affiliation with Versace isn’t a new concept. It was actually born from the genius Gianni Versace who was not only a talented designer but a business savvy master marketer. He knew the power of celebrity and regularly dressed Princess Diana, Elton John and Liz Hurley! A moment of silence for that safety pin dress please.
All this media exposure helped turn Versace into a household name. Gianni saw this and used it to his advantage, he merged fashion and celebrity culture in an unprecedented way. This came to a climax in the "Freedom! '90" fashion show which gave birth to the supers and solidified Versace as a fashion powerhouse.
He wasn’t only dressing his supers on the runway but off too; and nobody wore his designs better. Their amazonian esq physiques were adorned in baroque, bondage, print, leather, chains and Medusa! Yes, none of it was family friendly but it made every woman in the room green with envy. Everybody wanted to wear Versace, as the late great Tupac once said, "Now it's all about Versace / You copied my style.”
Where did the inspiration for such varied house code come from? It was all so decadent, outlandish and original! Medusa herself had gone from creepy to cool, the new IT girl who you had to be seen with! She was and remains Versace’s classic logo and was born from Versace’s love for Greek mythology. He was also inspired by his Italian culture, especially Milanese architecture which helped birth his baroque designs. He turned this Italian artistic tradition into wild pop art, replacing the angels and cherubs of Italian frescos with gold chains. He printed Medusa heads and leopard skins on shiny silk. It was bold and brash and is even more relevant today! Hell, even the 2020’s most trending celebrity, Joe Exotic has some Versace influence in his wardrobe. Those loud leopard-swirled shirts would not look out of place in a Versace campaign. Rappers also cannot seem to get enough it too, which started in the 90's with Tupac and has carried on into 2020 with the likes of the Migos and Cardi B!
No other fashion house has such a strong pop culture presence in the modern era, from the mansion in Miami to being the catalyst for starting Google images. Courtesy of J.Lo of course and THAT green dress. Who can forget? We were all obsessed and she broke the internet again when she recently reprised a similar version down the catwalk in 2019! It was such an iconic moment and showcased how Donatella for the past few seasons has been revisiting the brand's roots. Sending simplified, updated versions of classic Versace down the runways in Milan. This may have kickstarted a trend as a number of fashion houses have been using their own archives to inspire their present-day designs, like the Dior saddle bag making a comeback. The new mantra is: In with the Old and Out with the New!
It seems that Versace in 2020 is all about keeping their roots whilst simultaneously heading into the future. The Michael Kors acquisition has allowed more room for growth and the KITH x Versace collaboration has introduced Versace to millennials. This year brings the relaunch of Versace Jeans Couture, again inspired by archival designs and colorways. Whatever Versace’s next move, we’ll be, to quote Biggie Smalls, “Versace shade watchin' ya”