So this was the first Versace men’s show since the house was acquired by (the since renamed) Michael Kors Holdings Limited for just over $2 billion. Although Donatella Versace was not available to talk about the collection this Milan Fashion Week, she did grant an interview to formerly-of-this-parish Alex Fury in The Financial Times. In it, she addressed the “Korsace” question that panicked fans of the house have been pondering: Would the deal dilute Versace’s Versace-ness? Her response: “I don’t know why people thought Versace is becoming like Michael Kors? A medium, lower line. I mean with all due respect to Michael Kors . . . .”
Ha! Vintage Versace. This indomitable diva who once joked that her beauty routine is to sleep in her freezer tells it like it is. She also stressed that she would never allow Versace’s sneakers—which, for good measure, she added she would never herself wear—to be made in China, so as not to compromise on made-in-Italy excellence.
For those who harbored further doubts that Donatella would take her hand off the tiller now the Kors billions have rolled in, tonight’s collection proved a convincing rebuff. Encompassing men’s and an expensively cast—Adut Akech, Kaia Gerber, Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski—Pre-Fall women’s, this collection was riotously true to the supermodel-mentoring history of the house.
The opening section dipped heavily into the early 1990s bondage iconography Gianni had such fun with. Printed harness T-shirts for men, leather pants, and open-backed black silk jackets for men and women tethered by more harnessing provided the slap and tickle. It was sexy and provocative, which was the point. Suits for both genders accessorized with safety pins looked back to another famous way-back-when Versace moment.
Then the focus broadened. For men, fluoro knits with contrasting fluoro lace linings were future-kinky. More eye-watering color combinations dilated your pupils, softening the impact of the interesting coalescences between Gianni-print sportswear and gelateria-tone tailoring.
The logo-heavy interaction with Ford was a little strange, especially in the context of an Italian thoroughbred asserting its aristocracy, but deals are deals. After a street style–heavy middle section, the collection reverted back to the ostentatiously violent black tailoring, lace, and print that was and forever will be Versace’s meat and drink. New era, same old Versace: On the soundtrack RuPaul sang “you better work”—and who could doubt it?