Milan Fashion Week: Versace and the return of sartorial swagger
Donatella Versace sent a colorful collection down the catwalk on Monday night, in front of a star-studded audience in the courtyard of the Versace palazzo on Via Gesu.
The silhouette for the season hearkened to the Versace of yesteryear, strong at the shoulders with widened lapels, nipped in slightly at the waist and wider again at the hip. Similarly, trousers and shorts were tight at the waist and flaring generously at mid-thigh. (There were even a few neckties that looked like they could have been at least three skinny ties wide.)
Fabrics favored wool/lined blends, washed silks and laser-cut cotton, and the color palette was one of the brightest I've seen on a Versace men's runway in many a season -- an explosion of bold reds, blues, and yellows mixed in with less vivid -- but equally as eye-catching -- pinks, oranges, caramel browns and grays.
Another nod to the past was the season's recurring motif for the season, a baroque-inspired print from the Versace archives (our fashion critic Booth Moore noted Versace had gone for baroque for the women's fall and winter 2011 runway collection), given a modern tweak and used on silk shirts, trousers, and thick terrycloth robes lined with silk.
Maybe it was the strong shoulder, the over-the-top, in-your-face prints, or the trousers festooned with so many buckles down the side of the leg they resembled mariachi pants, but there was a palpable sense of confidence -- no, make that swagger -- about the collection that had been missing as of late.
Maybe Donatella's got her menswear groove back again -- or maybe it was the fact that the next morning H&M would announce that Donatella Versace has collaborated with the fast-fashion retailer on a collection -- including men's, women's and home -- that also mines the Versace heritage. (That collection will hit American H&M stores on Nov. 19.) Whatever the reason, it's good to have it back.
Among the famous faces in the front row for the show were actors Zachary Quinto ("Star Trek"), Darren Chris ("Glee"), Chace Crawford ("Gossip Girl") as well as professional basketball players Dwayne Wade and Carmelo Anthony. At one point during the runway show, Wade could be seen excitedly pointing out a particular catwalk look to his stylist Calyann Barnett, who was seated in the row behind him.
After the show I caught up with the New York Knicks' Anthony (dressed in a dark Versace suit and sporting a gray Lanvin flower boutonniere in his lapel), who told me he'd just watched his first-ever runway show. Asked his impression, he answered in a single word: "Unbelievable."
But the stylish NBA star, who attended the show with a gray Lanvin boutonniere tucked into his lapel, had a few more words when I asked if he'd seen anything on the spring and summer 2012 runway he could envision adding to his own wardrobe.
"Oh yeah," he said. "There were some jackets -- a couple of those red ones, a couple of those yellow ones and there was a gold jacket I liked too."
It's probably a good thing he didn't mention the skintight trousers with multiple buckles running down the length of the leg from hip to ankle. I counted about 15 buckles for the version worn by the runway model, and making a Carmelo-sized custom pair of the knickers would not only nearly double the buckles, but give him a repetitive motion injury from the act of donning and doffing his knickers.
-- Adam Tschorn, reporting from Milan
Photos: Looks from the Versace spring / summer 2012 runway collection shown during Milan Fashion Week. Credit: Olivier Morin / AFP / Getty Images.