In a season punctuated by momentum and pressing forward, for her highly-anticipated 'Tribute' collection, Donatella Versace showed Versace past by way of both Versace present and future in an exquisite ode to her brother, Gianni, on the 20th anniversary of his death. Emotional yes, but never maudlin or morose, this was a pure, technicolour celebration of his life, his vivid, insatiable character and his unparalleled contribution to fashion and the industry surrounding it.
High energy and palpable passion flowed through every aspect of the presentation as suped-up supers and the new-gen of would-be Gianni's girls hit the runways in one of fashion's biggest moments to date, demonstrating that, despite over 20 years since Gianni's iconic Baroque Fall 1991 collection, his work today remains as relevant and on-point as ever. Setting a surge of nostalgia for those of us old enough to remember the first time around, and a joyful jaunt into the Versace world for the younger generation, this was the stuff of dreams; a window back to the forging of supermodels, of boundary-pushing pieces, of unabashed opulence and pure, playful excess in the face of the minimalism practiced by other designers at the time.
Marking its place for Spring/Summer 2018, the baroque print took opening position as seen on model-of-the-moment Kaia Gerber – daughter of original Versace face Cindy Crawford – who, later in the show also wore a dress emblazoned with a print of her mother's image, walking side-by-side with runway favourites Bella Hadid, Candice Swanepoel, Kendall Jenner and Natasha Poly, who wore an original black and white ball skirt straight out of the archives. In a series of stories, prints were unchanged from Gianni's originals – think Vogue, Warhol, Icons, Animalia, Native Americans – each showcased in updated silhouettes on blouses, jackets, corsets, sheath dresses, catsuits, logo tees, bum bags (a big trend this season) and leggings. And, always hot on the details, jewellery, handbags, bejewelled belts, baseball caps, shoes and boots all got the complementary thematic treatment.
Ending on a high, finales don't come much better than this. While the final exit had been walked squad style, for a lasting tableau, in a nod to that 1994 ad campaign shot by Richard Avedon, the curtain drew back to reveal five Gianni favourites – Carla Bruni Sarkozy, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford and Helena Christensen in liquid gold gowns, set off by the chorus of George Michael's Freedom! '90. Linking hands and walking the runway with the designer herself, this was full Versace flair and fabulousness at its finest, immortalising the house into all its new tomorrows.