Raving with Versus Versace

New JW Anderson collection unveiled

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Smoke! Mirrors! DJs! Models! Stars! Music! And some pretty eye-catching clothes… The latest incarnation of Versus Versace, including JW Anderson’s capsule collection, launched with a masterful multimedia bash in New York last night.

Calling this event a fashion show would be a massive understatement. It's a rare fashion show that can pack in 1600 guests, treating them to a trio of top performers alongside fresh runway fashions. (And a handbag bike - they had that too.)

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Guests including Hayden Panettiere and Darren Criss rushed back and forth across the Lexington Armoury, intent on catching as much of the action as possible. Seeing it all was no small feat. The activity centred on a stage enclosed in one-way mirrors - when the lights came on, it became a totally visible backstage prep area. Models zoomed out onto catwalks extending from its right and left sides, walking to pose on stages situated on opposite sides of the hall. Between different sections of the runway show, there was pure swagger from I Run New York rapper Angel Haze, shouty rock from Dead Sara and experimental pop from Grimes. All wore Versus Versace clothes.

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As for those clothes, they made it clear that the new Versus Versace is a house divided. On one side are updated takes on Gianni’s brash, flashy classics (gold belt prints, studded leather and denim, cut-out mini-dresses), and on the other, there’s Anderson’s one-off capsule collection, consisting of androgynous clubwear in acid hues. Both camps share a youthfulness and anarchic spirit.

The clothes were just one element of the spectacle. Donatella Versace called the new Versus Versace ‘a label for a new global tribe,’ but it’s the digital element that really made this launch shine. During the event, live footage screened on versusversace.com, the brand’s new web hub, and selections from the collection were immediately available to purchase online. But the greatest moment of the night didn’t stem from any sort of strategy. It happened when Donatella, in her blonde, bronzed glory, stood with protégé Jonathan Anderson to observe the results of their collaboration. She looked up at him with an approving smile, seeming to say, ‘You did well. Look how happy they are to be here.’

She's right - and New York won't soon forget it.

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