The most headline-worthy moment of the Versus Versace show at London Fashion Week last September at London Fashion Week was the animal rights protestors who expressed their disapproval outside the venue of Central Saint Martins. The activists were angry, although one man was wearing leather Nike trainers, he told the street style photographers to “stop diverting the cause”. His ethics aside, the Versace diffusion line’s show didn’t have the same lustre as in previous seasons. They are currently without a creative director. (Anthony Vaccarello was previously at the helm but he decamped to Paris to assume the reins at Saint Laurent where he has heightened Hedi Slimane’s 60s sensibilities with a feisty femininity.)
Versus Versace is a label centred on “millennials”—as odious as that term is, at least the brand was designed to serve that function, rather than those other brands who started as high society labels before pandering to twenty-something-year-olds. It was founded in 1989, a gift from Gianni Versace to his sister, Donatella Versace. It closed for many years but it was revived by Donatella Versace’s appointment of Christopher Kane, who was then succeeded by J.W. Anderson, before Anthony Vaccarello had a two year stint. What was common to every outing was the pervasive sexuality that is unique to Versace. Each of the three knew how to interpret the codes of the house and present something vaguely fresh, even if it was hopelessly commercial. This season strived to achieve the same, it was successful albeit it was all weak-willed and unassertive.
There were references to lifeguards with those bucket hats and bikinis, interpenetrated with a Britishness in the form of those checks. Sun-kissed bodies was clearly a major takeaway, possibly a celebration of youth with the characters who walked the show. There were a few more formal pieces but mostly it was party dresses with neon accents and sportswear for the men.
There were a few things plucked from the archive with the intent of capturing the Instagram generation’s nostalgia-fuelled feeds. There was the classic grommeting, alluding to the founder’s Fall 1992 bondage collection; a Miami Beach car-print and a few other motifs. The brand does have the luxury of mining an extensive archive and propose the ideas from the 1990s to the customer of today, but the commerciality of the Versus collections eradicates the sheen of newness.
The worst thing about a brand presenting without a creative director is the irrefutable fact that nobody at the show cares. It’s pointless. Outside the show, one street style photographed explained, “they’re currently without a creative director, I don’t think anyone ‘big’ is coming.” The clothes were fine, they’ll serve the twenty-something-year-olds well—the focus was clearly on the accessories though, what with those bucket hats, clutches and chokers. However, everyone at the show weren’t really pushed. All they wanted to know was who’s next? Two words can reduce a collection to nothing. Perhaps the industry should take note and not needlessly waste resources.