The Sunday Telegraph

Step up for Versace in trainers that combine status with stature

- By Lisa Armstrong HEAD OF FASHION in Milan ow e arbieecaus­e nterplay e er

It was the trainers that got me. Versace doesn’t do trainers. It does heels so high you practicall­y require a lift to mount their summit. A stiletto is as much a part of the Versace woman’s go-to look as her swishy, flicky hair and her perma-tan. But when the tectonic plates of fashion grind into action, they do so decisively. Trainers are now the prevailing footwear for just about everyone, even the ladies who teeter. If the key to commercial success in fashion for the past 20 years was minting an It Bag, now it’s coming up with a distinctiv­e, eye-punching pair of trainers.

A year ago, Donatella Versace, who despite the private jets, diamonds and palazzos is not immune to the forces of the external world, engaged the services of Salehe Bembury, a sneakers nerd-cum-designer, who, she told me at the time, was giving her goosebumps with his footwear prototypes for Versace. Suffice to say that in Versace’s latest show, there were trainers. Some were trainerboo­ties, with chunky straps that fastened above the ankle.

Others had scooped-out fronts that turned them into futuristic-looking trainer-sandals. In purple or acid yellow and with Versace’s famous Etruscan motif etched along their sides, they represent a decisive point in the evolution of fashion.

There’s a new super-breed of trainer that combines status with stature. Versace’s pumped-up soles gave the models three to four inches of added height. Designed to be worn with evening dresses as well as jogging pants, they’ll slot comfortabl­y alongside the exaggerate­d ted trainers that have made so much h money for Gucci and inter alia Balenciaga. lenciaga. This wasn’t Versace’s only nly news. This house, which has made its name, on the red carpet t at least, with glamorous, slashed, d, wispy evening dresses, is taking ng a detour into separates next spring. Stripy skinny ribs bs partnered with checked d knickers (what else?) and nd satin jackets. There were re more modest options: micro leather minis or stretchy hy pencil skirts.

This was an interestin­g ng section: not just for the orange, cobalt and yellow colour palette, which was a sophistica­ted departure from Versace’s traditiona­l Barbieesqu­e spectrum, but because of the sporty, playful interplay of graphic prints. There was even a cardigan: another nod to life as it is lived on Earth.

Generally speaking, Versace isn’t a label that sets trends. It has such a strong DNA and is so fixed xed within its world view that anyone e with a moderately well-informed med take on fashion instantly knows s when something looks “Versace-esque”. ace-esque”. Tight body-conscious dresses in various shades of Barbie. ie. Tight black tailoring with studs, Medusa edusa heads or Swarovski crystals. Grecian-goddess ecian-goddess floaty-ness anchored to o tight corsetry. A bit of light bondage or punk.

But Donatella Versace ce is on a renewed mission to keep ep Versace evolving. She made sure re to include some classic set pieces such as those Grecian-goddess dresses es and patterned tights, but this his time layered with tanks and sweaters, rs, a salve to younger generation­s who are discoverin­g – and collecting cting – those big, splashy Versace patterned tterned shirts and leggings from the Eighties and Nineties on resale websites. sites.

If she plays her hand d well, Donatella Versace could steer her r label into a genuinely cross-generation­al ational brand. This show as a strong step tep towards that.

‘Trainers are now the prevailing footwear for just about everyone, even the ladies who teeter’

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