Viva Versace! After eight years away, Donatella takes glamour back to the top

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Is the ultimate luxury label out of step with the times? Not at Paris fashion week. Susannah Frankel on a rousing return

For years the Atelier Versace collection was among the high points of the haute couture calendar, until it disappeared from the schedule. The late Gianni Versace installed a catwalk over the swimming pool at the Paris Ritz to show off his label's most glamorous collections but then times changed and such opulence fell out of fashion. Yesterday, the Italian status label showed its first Atelier Versace collection since 2004.

After Gianni Versace's murder on the steps of his Miami mansion in 1997, his younger sister, Donatella, became creative director. The first decade of the new millennium was a challenging one for the designer. Despite her best efforts, Ms Versace battled against personal, professional and more widespread economic difficulties. More recently, however, the Versace label, formerly synonymous with dressing to impress and high-octane glamour Italian style, has regained its stride.

Lady Gaga wore vintage Versace on several occasions last year and November's debut H&M collection introduced the house's signatures – baroque print, dazzling colour and silver and gold metal mesh included – to a whole new and, crucially, younger customer. While the second budget collaboration with H&M is being snapped up online, yesterday's collection was aimed at the customer who prefers her wardrobe to be filled with precious one-offs, hand-fitted, tailored and finished to suit her every curve.

Ms Versace dressed Angelina Jolie in a highly structured Atelier Versace column dress for the Golden Globes last week and it was this level of show-stopping style that set the blueprint.

The designer was thinking of "glamorous warriors" she said. With that clearly in mind, her models stalked a burnished gold podium in thigh-high python boots and gladiator sandals and wearing jewelled, embroidered gowns in liquid gold and silver with suitably fierce metal corsetry on display.

It was what a modern-day Boadicea might like to wear or, for that matter, any big-name Oscar attendee worth her red carpet credentials: Gwyneth Paltrow and Cameron Diaz both attended.

Alongside the requisite big entrance dresses were shorter, sharper designs in dazzling shades of fluorescent orange, yellow and green. They were finished with polished metal and Perspex, that proved hand-made doesn't necessarily mean traditional in the usual sense of the word. There were shades of Barbarella here too.

When asked backstage after the show why she had decided to show Atelier Versace again, Donatella Versace said: "Because I missed it." The injection of bravura that this collection demonstrated ensured that she is more than welcome in return.

Later in the day came the second haute couture collection for the house of Christian Dior since John Galliano's abrupt departure from that label last year. Once again, his long-time first designer and the man who has taken over his signature line, Bill Gaytten, stepped out to take bows at the end of the proceedings. Gaytten is acting creative director at Dior but has not officially been named as Galliano's successor. And neither does it seem likely he will be.

This was an entirely polite show that appeared to hark back to a bygone era that whispered of money and conseravtism: a time, then, long before Galliano got his hands on the label and with none of the audacity and spirit that characterised his tenure.

The haute couture schedule is the jewel in the crown of French fashion brands, the laboratory of ideas from which everything else springs. Here, more than anywhere else, a clear image is vital to promote a name. While lip service was paid to the Dior heritage – the wasp-waisted New Look, the houndstooth check, the overblown ball gowns – any vitality or sense of relevance to an increasingly fashion-knowledgeable couture customer was conspicuous by its absence.

Throughout the summer months it was thought that Marc Jacobs, artistic director of Louis Vuitton, was the designer most likely to take over at Christian Dior. More recently, Raf Simons, responsible for both a signature menswear line and for men's and womenswear at Jil Sander, has been cited as the most likely name in the frame. An official announcement is yet to be made.

voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    VB.Net Developer

    £35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

    SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

    Java Developer

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a...

    SAP Functional Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £45,000 - £55,000.

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Functional ...

    Day In a Page

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn