Donatella Versace was standing backstage, swishing her platinum blonde mane, her hands on her studded leather hips. ‘Dangerous beauty,’ she said, of her show. ‘It was about protecting yourself with armour but showing your determination.’
The ‘armour’ came in the form of chainmail – first seen on a Versace runway in 1982. ‘That was the first time Gianni Versace showed “the iron”, thirty years ago,’ explained Santo Versace, Donatella’s elder brother.
The super lightweight silver metal mesh had been constructed into all manner of body sculpting, gravity defying dresses, from cocktail to red carpet. Although, when asked if she had any celebrities in mind to wear them to this weekend’s Oscars, Donatella simply said, ‘I love alllllll women.’
The fact is Donatella’s designs are fashioned for someone in her mould. In her world. She loves dressing strong women because, well, she is one. That would explain the models’ Joan of Arc / Rooney Mara hair cuts, the knee-high fishnet boots and the black leather dresses that had been all but laminated to their bodies and sprayed with crystals. It would certainly take a strong personality to be seen out wearing this stuff—let alone in the full glare of the public spotlight.
This was pure, deadly, bejazzling, goth-glam Versace – inspired by its own amazing archive. Gianni Versace himself might have jewelled a bustier with a Byzantine cross, or scrambled Warhol-bright letters E C A S R E V on block coloured skirts and matching bags, or injected that lethal dose of yellow and orange for mini dresses.
But the attitude and determination? They were pure Donatella.