Be­hind the seams

In an era of brand evo­lu­tion and mu­ta­tion, Ver­sace tri­umphs by stand­ing its ground

AugustMan (Malaysia) - - Front Page - WORDS BY DAR­REN HO PHO­TOS BY VER­SACE

Ver­sace tri­umphs in an era of brand evo­lu­tion

SOME OF OUR read­ers may not be old enough to re­mem­ber, but my child­hood and early teen years were em­braced by the fash­ion aura of Ver­sace and its youth-cel­e­brat­ing dif­fu­sion line, Ver­sus. The Me­dusa logo and Greek keys that were the em­blems of the brand were cov­eted along with Moschino, Ar­mani and other grand fash­ion la­bels back in the ’90s.

A the­atre afi­cionado and cos­tume maker for artistes and per­form­ers alike, Gianni Ver­sace cre­ated ready-to-wear that com­mu­ni­cated the same drama and flair on the street as it did on stage. The ’80s and ’90s were a loud and over-the-top era, full of overt per­sonas who had lived through the era of glam rock and tran­sited into punk. On the streets, lo­go­ma­nia was a buoy­ant move­ment (dis­creet lux­ury was a gen­er­a­tion away) and peo­ple who had wealth were not afraid to show it. Gianni Ver­sace’s Gre­coRo­man in­spired styles were ripe for this era.

Ital­ian fash­ion is splen­didly di­vided between two dis­tinct val­ues: the loud and the sub­tle. Both sides find some sort of con­nec­tion with Ital­ian art, ar­chi­tec­ture and Catholi­cism. In all these realms, a solid Ital­ian sen­si­bil­ity in de­sign and style find an­other ex­ter­nal pre­sen­ta­tion that can be overt. It’s also a re­gion di­vide: the quiet, al­most aus­tere north with the vi­va­cious south. Ver­sace’s provoca­tive de­signs raised plenty of eye­brows back in the ’90s, but they also paved the way for to­day’s style lead­ers and their #ootds. The whis­pered joke late last cen­tury was that Ver­sace dressed mis­tresses. To­day, it’s the wives who’ve em­braced that racy style.

Donatella’s Reign

Al­though Donatella Ver­sace fully picked up the com­pany’s reins after her brother’s un­timely pass­ing, she had al­ready devel­oped her own de­sign ver­nac­u­lar through the Ver­sus line. The punk­ish vibe of the dif­fu­sion line in­fused it­self into the fam­ily’s epony­mous line through her cre­ative ex­pres­sion. Like Gianni, she sought to de­velop the idea that peo­ple should be free to dress as they wished, with­out fear of be­ing judged for it. A guilt-free at­ti­tude to­wards fash­ion, if you will. It was about choice and fear­less fash­ion in­di­vid­u­al­ity, and this con­fi­dence made Ver­sace stand out.

Ver­sace’s bold de­signs, blend­ing cou­ture with sex­i­ness, took the world by storm. It wasn’t only the celebri­ties who em­braced the brand’s ethos, the pub­lic loved it too.

It shaped an en­tire gen­er­a­tion of fash­ion afi­ciona­dos who chal­lenged the strictures of pro­pri­ety in so­ci­ety. But as the loud 20th cen­tury gave way to the de­sire for a more dis­creet style, the brand faced a piv­ot­ing mo­ment: should it con­tinue to pro­voke and out­rage, or sing a qui­eter re­frain?

Donatella Ver­sace opted to stand firm on the brand’s foun­da­tions of be­ing dra­matic and the­atri­cal. But she also em­braced a more free-flow­ing and re­laxed sil­hou­ette in her women’s col­lec­tion.

In menswear, a more un­con­structed form also emerged, and the vo­lu­mi­nous silk shirts of the ’90s gave way to tonal colours and more so­phis­ti­cated prints and pat­terns. She re­tained the drip­ping pres­ence of sex­u­al­ity and sen­su­al­ity that de­fined the brand, while ton­ing down on its raw en­ergy.

A Re­turn to Form

This show­ing of its spring men’s col­lec­tion marked 20 years since Gianni Ver­sace was gunned down in Mi­ami by se­rial killer An­drew Cu­nanan. The brand re­turned to its Via Gesu palazzo, where the Me­dusa logo was first es­tab­lished. It’s also 40 years since Ver­sace’s first col­lec­tion.

At the birth­place of the brand, Ver­sace’s con­fi­dent men and al­lur­ing women marched in sync. Pin­stripe suits were cut in a jacket shape that re­sem­bled an old Gianni Ver­sace de­sign, and the same ma­te­rial was worked into a light, lace-trimmed dress with high-cut sl­its that danced air­ily around the model’s thighs. A silk shirt with an Opera Bal­letic Teatro Cin­ema print found it­self loosely shrugged onto the frame of a fe­male model.

Her male coun­ter­part wore a sim­i­lar piece in a va­ri­ety of ways: un­der a glen plaid suit, in a light denim en­sem­ble bear­ing the same mo­tifs, or with shorts and paired with a light sum­mer trench­coat. This print was drawn from the brand’s ar­chives, but had never been used till now. An­other de­sign was sim­i­larly turned into shirt dresses, jack­ets, bombers, py­ja­mas.

A mono­chrome silk print fea­tur­ing the me­an­der and a dozen other pat­terns jum­bled up into a dizzy­ing ar­ray of forms caught our at­ten­tion for its blend of au­then­tic Ver­sace at­ti­tude with the gen­tle dis­cre­tion of colour. It was clas­sic Ver­sace at­tuned to the world to­day. The brand bears the same sexy al­lure of its past, but a sen­su­ous­ness that’s now tinged with ex­pe­ri­ence and ma­tu­rity. And that’s ac­tu­ally even sex­ier. AM

THIS SPREAD CLOCK­WISE Con­tem­po­rary clas­sics; Donatella Ver­sace; archival prints com­mem­o­rate the brand and its his­tory; Chad­wick Bose­man in Ver­sace at the Met Gala this year

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.