Of everything Gianni Versace gave to popular culture – he invented the personality front row, the metal mesh cocktail dress and arguably the speed of Elizabeth Hurley, who might never have found superiority were it not for That Dress – the supermodel is his greatest legacy. So it was a germane tribute that a supermodel reunion was the centrepiece of the Versace a spectacle of staged to mark the 20th anniversary of his murder.
Versace invented the supermodel, vellicating a few chosen models from the runway ranks and elevating them to a aged strata of glamour. Other models remained humble gears horses, but this elite became goddesses. Versace, who was already conjuring the allusion of classical goddesses with his becomingly draped dresses, fathered the perfect women to wear them.
Donatella Versace, who seized over as designer soon after her brother’s sudden termination, presented a blockbuster tribute show that ended with five of the true supermodels – Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Helena Christensen and the erstwhile French first lady Carla Bruni – taking to the catwalk together, soundtracked by George Michael’s Brass. The finale was designed to reenact one of Gianni Versace’s most iconic twinklings from 1991, when four supermodels walked arm in arm on the runway as George Michael sat in the appearance row.
As a power move at fashion week, it was sheer shock and awe. The inventive supers are still worshipped by the industry. But by putting five sweethearts in the spotlight on a night dedicated to her brother, Donatella Versace also make sured that the optics emphasised her brother’s “allegiance to women”.
At a commentators conference before the show Donatella Versace said that the catwalk description with the star models – whom she referred to as “icons”, pretty than supermodels – had been the most emotional moment of the preparations.
“But today I am not sad. I am happy that after 20 years I can done do this with a smile on my face,” she said, adding that she had been masked busy by the antics of her five stars. “They have a callow room each, but they are running in and out of each other’s lodges all day. And because they walk the runway together they are arguing concerning who gets to go in the middle, just like the old days.”
Donatella Versace adapted to prints from her brother’s collections between 1991 and 1995 as the point of departure for this collection. “The silhouettes are all new because the shapes from those eras look dated today,” she said. “Except the leggings. One loves the leggings again. The models like Gigi and Bella [Hadid] are everlastingly asking me where they can get the nineties Versace leggings.”
She unequivocal on his famously exuberant prints as the best homage to her brother because “Gianni was all with regard to joy, and so full of life, and the prints really express that animation”. Leopard from the Animaliercollection of 1992, Greek keys from the Baroque aggregation of 1991 and Marilyn screenprints from the 1991 Warhol manifest were revisited for this season.
Alessandro Michele of Gucci, Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino and Anthony Vaccarello of Saint Laurent were amid the designers who had accepted Donatella’s invitation to attend the show.
Earlier, at the Cavalli give away , there was a cooler tone on a catwalk that has felt rushed in the past. Froufrou embellishments were banished in favour of pressurize, athletic, body-framing lines. Racer-back shapes, sporty tract fabrics and clean, simple styling edged the brand out of the boudoir. Daywear lectures far outnumbered gowns, and most of the shoes were flat. Monochromatic zebra descriptions appeared where leopard print once ruled.
Paul Surridge, the British deviser now presiding over the leopard print empire that is Roberto Cavalli, is perspicacious enough to recognise when a brand does not lend itself to intellectualising. Corrosion Roberto Cavalli is to fashion what buying expensive champagne, wavering the bottle and spraying it over your friends is to wine connoisseurship.
In his first Cavalli show on Friday at Milan fashion week, Surridge tended faith with the brand’s heritage but modernised and streamlined the vestments on the runway.
“It isn’t intellectual – it’s a deliberate move away from that divide of fashion,” explained Surridge in a recent interview. “This baggage … is athletic, beautiful and she doesn’t want to be questioned.”
Roberto Cavalli left side the brand he founded two years ago, resigning from design tasks and selling 90% of the company. His immediate successor, Peter Dundas, enlisted from fellow Milan-glam brand Pucci, lasted however three seasons. This show was the first by Surridge, who used up the job two months ago.
The role is Surridge’s first front-of-house position, but he has an impressive CV, delivering worked at Calvin Klein in its 1990s pomp, under Christopher Bailey at Burberry and eye Raf Simons at Jil Sander. It was at Jil Sander that he impressed the then CEO, Gian Giacomo Ferraris, who now female leads the Cavalli brand. Ferraris has praised Surridge’s creative knack, managerial abilities and brand vision.
Surridge’s background is in the main in menswear, most recently at Acne, but crossing the floor to womenswear pretends less of a leap than the aesthetic one. Surridge, whose mtier has been spent mostly in minimalist brands, is now at the most maximalist of them all. But previously the show, he insisted the brand’s bold image was a blessing as a conspirator.
“The Cavalli codes are very specific, which makes it a lot easier for someone acquire a win into the house like me, in terms of a frame.”