Milan fashion week wouldn’t be the same without Versace‘s unabashed high-voltage, rock-star glitz, and this season there was simply no stopping Donatella. For her new women’s collection, she unleashed her latest look, which she has dubbed “vunk”.
This translated into a high-fashion twist on punk and saw models stride out on to a gleaming white catwalk wearing lashings of shiny vinyl in yellow , red, white, black and rich purple.
Tartan kilts had rubbery fronts. A black body-hugging fetish dress was teamed with knee-high black boots, which featured cascading spiked nails angrily flicking down their fronts. Studded T-shirts with the likes of “wild” emblazoned across their fronts screeched the Sex Pistols era at full volume, though they had also been given a 2013 Versace-style update via a mink trim on each sleeve.
A yellow and black intarsia fur coat was worn strewn over a pair of skintight black vinyl trousers and thigh-high studded boots.
The animal prints on show had been developed by American artists the Hass Brother specifically for the Italian fashion house.
For evening, the vunk look revolves around draped black or red dresses with peep holes, some with PVC sleeves and typically daring front slits.
Accessories – rings and chokers dripping with rebellious-looking metal spikes – and nails finished looks off with punch, while spindly sandals featured fur fronts.
There is nothing subtle or really new about this latest look, but then looking subtle has never really been why people have come to Versace.
However, the show had energy, and the tailored pieces, such as a rich red wool coat with metal buttons, showcased the label’s excellent cutting skills.
At a preview, Donatella, wearing a black studded biker jacket and boot-cut vinyl jeans, explained that as a designer she only ever wants to look forward. So for this latest collection she had thought a lot about how the “punk woman” might be today. “What does she rebel against?” asked Versace. “She would never want to be seen second to a man. She’s better,” she purred knowingly.
It’s perhaps no coincidence that punk is having a general fashion moment. In May, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York opens its latest fashion blockbuster exhibition: Punk: Chaos to Couture. It features the now legendary Versace safety pin dress that Liz Hurley wore in 1994.
The punk spirit has also run through other catwalk shows this season. In London, Italian label Moschino Cheap & Chic showed a “punk goes to couture” collection, which featured striped mohair jumpers and graffiti dresses. In Milan, the mainline Moschino autumn/winter catwalk on Friday morning featured mini-tartan kilts – kilts and pleated minis look set to flood the high street next autumn. At Fendi’s show on Thursday, the punk nod came in the shape of mohawk hairstyles created from fox fur.
It is not just this latest Versace punk collection that has seen the designer tap into a younger spirit for her mainline collection – last season she offered a tie-dye-meets-sexy-festival look, while the previous autumn was all blunt fringes and Girl With the Dragon Tattoo moodiness.
But then Versace is very switched on. She worked with Christopher Kane on Versus, Versace’s spin-off line, for three years and has been an avid supporter of the Scottish designer from the beginning of his career. Last week in London, she once again sat in the front row at his show.
Versace has also now signed British-based avant-garde experimentalist JW Anderson, to co-design a one-off capsule collection for the next Versus collection, which will be shown in New York in April.
Anderson, recently named best emerging talent in ready-to-wear at the British Fashion Awards, is a buzz name who is not shy of taking a risk. In January, he put men in frilled shorts and sheath dresses on the catwalk. This sense of daring would appeal to Versace, a house which has historically liked to shock.
Following Anderson’s Versus collection, Donatella will collaborate with various other up and coming creative talents from the field of fashion while also reportedly presenting these collections with a strong digital element.
This month, the designer has also made no secret of the fact that she thinks Milan fashion week is lagging behind London and New York and needs to think about how it can become more relevant and international.