The Scene: Atelier Versace FW14
The Inspiration: Donatella Versace is in an experimental mood at present, so what better collection to serve as her design lab than haute couture? “I wanted to celebrate construction and deconstruction, provoking by taking away fabric, to make couture modern,” she announced in her show notes, and indeed many pieces seemed like a departure from the Versace DNA—sure, there was plenty of skin, an abundance of body-hugging silhouettes, and an undeniable appreciation for the female form, but overall the first collection of Paris’ Fall 2014 haute couture week was imbued with a forward-thinking modernity that was most welcome.
The Look: This isn’t your mom’s Versace. Donatella is serious about finding new ideas that, while a bit avant-garde, still fit within the framework of the house, and that extend to a dual exploration of tailoring and how skin is exposed on the body. Jackets were built to achieve a one-shoulder effect, while skirts were pulled back on one side to either reveal a bare leg and hip or the full leg of a trouser (just the one trouser leg, mind you; the other was exposed as the model walked and the skirt flew back behind her). Cutaways were omnipresent, around the midriff of a Grecian-inspired chiffon gown, as well as a more structured corset. The color palette overall was stark, kicking off with black and then mixed with punches of white—best were the navy and black combinations, as well as a liquid-like grouping in silver sequins toward the end. And if you needed any further evidence that this was a Versace collection, you only had to spy the bold Greek-key beading that adorned the back of two asymmetrically draped ballgown skirts that closed out the show.
The Accessories: Look for the one-of-a-kind Atelier Versace jewelry pieces to be making a big push into the U.S. in the coming months, all of which is to say, pay a little more attention to the statement earrings and cuffs that adorned some of those artfully wrapped dresses. If jewels the price of a really nice car aren’t your thing, then go for the black leather gloves, scrunched below the elbow and paired with many of the jackets that kicked off the show.
On the Runway: Mariacarla Boscono kicked off the show in a severe black suit and leather gloves (though not too severe; the asymmetrically wrapped ankle-length skirt revealed plenty of leg on one side), with other A-list models including Jourdan Dunn and Anja Rubik (killer in a silver-sequin racerback gown that wrapped and closed with two buckles at the waist), while Stella Tennant closed the show in a corset-like strapless bodysuit of black sequins and an asymmetrically wrapped skirt in white draped silk.
The Front Row: It’s tough enough to combat jet lag without being subjected to a French photographer literally shoving you out of the way so he can take a photo of Nina Dobrev (dressed in a military-inspired Versace mini), but that’s precisely what happened as I ascended the steps of the show’s venue mere hours after landing in Paris. Whoever says fashion isn’t a battlefield is sadly mistaken. Versace security quickly came to the rescue, though I’m glad I made it in before the event’s true dynamic duo arrived for their photo op: Donatella Versace with Jennifer Lopez, the latter looking totally glam, her hair in a sleek pony above a white strapless gown, the skirt cutaway on one side to reveal a full trouser leg, a key look to this season’s collection. Lopez has famously been wearing Versace during her AKA tour (you definitely thought about the safety-pin-adorned silver mini she’s been wearing when a grouping of silver-sequin pieces took their turn on the runway); so not surprisingly, the show closed with models walking to “So Good” from that album.
The Takeaway: The trouser detail underneath the cutaway skirts provided a—dare I say it?—modest option for those who love Versace but have demurred to the overt sexiness that has forever defined this label. Then again, if it’s skin you’re into, all those “peeled-away-from-the-hip” skirts also provided some ultra-sexy options, while the attention to tailoring without question deserves a second look. And ultimately, even as we loved J Lo in her white-hot skirt-meets-trouser look on the front row, we’re looking forward to those red carpet moments when the desire to go bare proves far too alluring. This is, after all, the woman who put cut-down-to-there Versace on the map, so you know it’s coming.