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.

people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballStriker in talks over £17m move from Manchester United
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
boksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
Latest stories from i100
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

    SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

    SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

    Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

    £85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

    Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

    £55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

    Day In a Page

    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

    ... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
    Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

    Europe's biggest steampunk convention

    Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

    The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor