Milan Fashion Week: Who is the ideal woman for Versace? Ask Donatella

 

Milan

Plenty of designers prattle on about “their woman”. But who, precisely, is she? She cuts a hazy, frequently crazy figure whose interests oscillate wildly, from contemporary art, to scuba diving, to eighteenth-century history. Her main interest is spending lots of money on clothes. Other than that, she’s something of an enigma.

Donatella Versace, by contrast, knows exactly who her woman is. It’s herself: a woman who dresses to be sexy, who maintains her appearance with a ferocious intensity, whose wardrobe staple is Versace. Like the label that bears her surname, Donatella doesn’t dress down. Incidentally, this year Donatella is going to the Oscars. She’s packing two Versace evening gowns. What else could she need?

For autumn/winter 2014, however, Donatella wanted to appeal to the new Versace woman. What was new? She summed it up best: “less complicated, more liberated, very sensual”. She’s been experimenting with bias cutting, lending a supple fluidity and sensuality, rather than sexuality, to the collection. “It caresses your body,” she purred. That was evident in a quartet of slinking, body-moulding evening gowns, but it also animated hems of sprightly daywear in black, white and clashes of lapis and cyclamen.

Gianni Versace’s personal collections of uniforms surrendered the embellishment. Indeed, Donatella said her woman this season was decorated: but in the military sense, rather than Versace’s usual razzmatazz shenanigans. They were there again, of course: a trio of bead-bedecked numbers were a tour de force of pleated leather, studs and the kind of cantilever engineers usually employ to ensure bridges don’t collapse. Here, it shields wealthy wearers from a wardrobe malfunction.

But, with sleek coats and tuxedos, as well as those slender bias day-dresses, this collection forced the point that glitz isn’t the sum total of the house’s aesthetic. It was a quieter side of Versace, but no less emphatic.

Elsewhere, Alessandra Facchinetti’s Tod’s collections are terribly quiet. Her debut was too quiet for its own good. This one was more forceful and more identifiable. There was too much fur – an easy tag-on to bump up prices – and a few too many tricksy details, like external pockets flapping at hips. Those are niggles: the overall message was a modern way of dressing sumptuously, in silks, cashmeres and lots of luscious leather.

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