In a darkened space at the New York Stock Exchange, a golden torch-bearing hand stood, an obvious reference to the Statue of Liberty. Versace took their Pre-Fall 2019 collection to America.
In September 2018, the American company Capri Holdings Group, renamed from Michael Kors Holdings Group, acquired the Italian brand, led by Donatella Versace’s design initiative and CEO Gian Giacomo Ferraris, for $2.1 billion. The move sent shockwaves across the industry as it affirmed Kors’ position as a key player in the international luxury conglomerate arena.
The night before the Versace show—in Brooklyn, Alexander Wang further explored his Chinese-American heritage, and Chanel will soon follow, where Karl Lagerfeld will elaborate on America’s relationship with the house, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
She harked back to the days of chintzy prints, neons, and animalia. It was a tale of excess. Bold prints, ostentatious colours, and luxe fabrics. It convincingly paid homage to Gianni Versace, the founder.
Of late, Donatella Versace has relied heavily on the codes of the brand’s past. In the past year, she has mined the brand’s archives more than she has invented modern interpretations of the brand’s history.
One could argue she’s unearthing the roots of the brand to assert its significance to a younger, emerging market of consumers. Others could conjecture that the nostalgia-tinged collections are a marketing tool. Look no further than the relaunch of Prada’s Linea Rossa to see the fashion industry’s wager on 90s culture as a commercial proposition. Versace recalled the slinky black gown, fashioned with gold safety pins, that Elizabeth Hurley wore in 1994, and the shape of the gown Jennifer Lopez wore to the Grammys in 2000. Moreover, the introduction of trainers, for men and women, was an unsubtle move.
Another obvious ploy? A t-shirt, the ‘I ❤ NY’ typography was emblazoned on the Versace logo, signifying the marriage between the American and Italian brands. But the image, a symbol of capitalism, reinforced something else about the collection: in 2018, money has more currency than creativity in the fashion industry.