Versace A/W 2015. Photo credit: Marcus Tondo /

Quintessentially Italian. Quintessentially Versace.

There was so much about this evening’s Versace show that is wonderful, I’m not sure I can condense it all into a reasonably readable amount of words. Donatella pulled from the house’s history for the sleek, slim silhouettes her father made famous, then embellished them with her own style in ways that make them new without fundamentally altering the DNA.

I’m already getting ahead of myself, though. Let’s start with the incredible two-story tall scaffolding covered with iconic cutout elements taken from the label’s logo. Painted bright red and backlit as well with red lights, the over-saturation of color was a bit rough on the eyes. At the same time, watching the silhouettes of models making their way down the scaffolding, only partially visible through the cutouts, was an entertainment that made it difficult to watch the runway as the show developed.

Complete color saturation was the name of the game this evening and while red dominated the first part of the presentation, the extremely vivid push of color continued into yellow, green, blue, and occasional mixes of those. They were most dramatic when set against black numbers, such as the red thigh-high boots or a green cutout down the side of a black dress. Colors were more overwhelming when sequined and then jumbled as though the letters of the brand’s name had been tossed onto the sheer fabric. When Donatella chose to send head-to-toe monochrome colors down the runway, one needed sunglasses to avoid eye damage. Anna Wintour may have been the only one who came adequately prepared.

Donatella has long loved using cutouts and she continues that this season with a preference for variations of the V shape. Most often, it is one leg of the V, a structured diagonal slash across a shoulder, or a gentle curve down the side. At times the cutouts were traditional, but they were most dramatic when backed with the primary colors, like rays of light attempting to break out from the darkness. Toward the end of the collection, the cutouts became very precise and detailed, actually shaping the dresses with what wasn’t there as much as what was.

Not without her eccentricities, some elements were a bit more questionable. While we’ve seen the over-sized fur coats before, when she sent a bright yellow coat down the runway with leg-hugging thigh-high yellow boots to match, it was impossible to not draw references to Sesame Street’s Big Bird. Then, there was the brass VERSACE choker that could not have been the least bit comfortable as it pushed the model’s neck to unnatural length. When one is designing a 50-piece collection, one of the largest we’ve seen this season, I guess a few misses are inevitable.

It is a certain kind of woman, even among Italian women, that can wear Versace and look good. Inevitably, their features alone would cause them to stand out in a crowd. For the woman wearing this Versace A/W collection, though, the look is so intense she may need to hand out shades.

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