On a date that would have been the great Gianni Versace's 72nd birthday, December 2, 2018, Donatella held her first ever New York show at the American Stock Exchange on a rainy Sunday to showcase her pre-fall collection. Gianni's fame transcended most designers as his outsized personality, and spending habits were legendary worldwide. His generous spirit and abundant talent have been tirelessly documented as the world feels that much less exciting without his over-the-top fashion spectacles. He became famous for saying, "I don't believe in good taste" while his productions were the best of taste and style for that matter.
The storied label he built, starting with a small boutique in 1978, was acquired by Michael Kors in September 2018 for $2.1 Billion with Donatella, 63, remaining at the head of the high-end Italian fashion label she started with her family. The company will soon change its name to Capri Holdings Limited and plans to open 100 more stores soon. The highly capricious fashion world has seen an abundance of turnovers and changes in the past couple of years including Alexander Wang's announcement in February 2018 that he would be holding future shows in December and June instead of during the usual fashion week. Other brands quickly followed suit with Narciso Rodriguez staging his collection December 3rd at 10 AM and Versace and Chanel holding highly anticipated shows the first week in December. Additional designers in December slots include Victor Glemaud, Badgley Mischka, Cushnie and Carolina Herrera who will all show pre-fall lines.
Versace is all about the decadent '90s even though the label remains undeniably relevant today as evidenced by the evening's star-studded audience. Despite the dearth of celebrities at fashion shows and charity events, Donatella managed to attract luminaries in the busiest month of the year as Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, Norman Reedus and Diane Kruger, Lupita Nyong'o, Tracee Ellis Ross, Paris Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Ciara and rappers Young Thug, 2 Chainz and 21 Savage took their place on the glamorous red carpet.
The bling in the room was nearly blinding especially when coupled with dozens of flash photographers. When Donatella took over the reins of the company in 1997, one year and three days after her brother's murder, many questioned whether she would be able to preserve her brother's iconic legacy while adding enough unique touches to ensure the label's supremacy. Versace pleasantly surprised the fashion community with her first couture collection and continued to draw celebrities to the brand for nearly every Awards’ show.
Donatella remains a darling to rap stars, musicians and actresses both young and old as her legendary parties attract Elton John, Madonna, Kate Moss, and Prince Charles. Her popularity soared when she placed Jennifer Lopez in the infamous Versace green "Jungle Dress" in February 2000 and Lopez continues to be an enthusiastic client. While the Versace brand itself has 15.2 million Instagram followers Donatella's notoriety continues to soar with her own Instagram account boasting 3.7 million followers. Even the models walking the runway this evening were extraordinary with Gigi Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, Kaia Gerber, Hailey Baldwin, Irina Shayk, Candice Swanepoel, Stella Maxwell, Willow Smith (I think) and Imaan Hammam gracing the catwalk in one of the only shows to rival that of Victoria's Secret-which was being shown on ABC the same evening.
The historical American Stock Exchange, where Donatella chose to stage the show, contained a large gold replica of the Statue of Liberty's torch in the middle of the venue allowing those who love New York to bask in this glorious display. In fact, the show was an ode to both Gianni and New York, whose contagious energy infuse everything they touch. Although scheduled to be live-streamed at 7 PM the collection was delayed until 7:30 PM as the excited crowd took to their assigned seats with Olivia Palermo the last to arrive.
The show began with the most ubiquitous and famous model, Kaia Gerber, who continues to grace runways, ad campaigns and fashion shows at a pace that is nearly unparalleled at the too early age of 17. Kaia, Cindy Crawford’s daughter, is undoubtedly a great model but doesn't fill out the clothing with the drama and gravitas they need. The collection began with brown and khaki silks and leathers and quickly transitioned to the signature Versace black, white and gold ensembles.
The black cut-out dresses and black-and-white jungle themed attire were sexy and sleek with an obvious nod to the Versace of the late ’90s and early 2000s while still possessing a modern fit and aesthetic that makes it extremely wearable today. The bright yellows and pinks were equally current with few designers better able to execute bold colors than Versace. The big 90's hair and wigs reminded me of Madonna's Tom Ford Gucci look at the 1995 MTV VMA's, and it was positively exciting when the kerchief clad models strolled down the runway with Versace suitcases in tow.
The conclusion contained a lot of frivolous jumpsuits and skirts embellished with hearts and t-shirts adorned with “I Love NY. “ Gucci’s recent collection which paid homage to the magic of New York is paradigmatic of the continued global fashion obsession with all things New York. The finale look was that of 90's supermodel Amber Valletta clad in a plunging gown adorned with multi-colored hearts-paradigmatic of Versace's love for New York and all that the '90s had to offer-including the designs of her extraordinarily talented brother, Gianni.