Versace F/W 16
Versace F/W 16

Donatella scared me for a moment. When we think Versace, I expect bright, bold colors and sometimes fantastic prints. But when this evening’s show began, the first look was dark blue with black leather accents. So was the second. And the third. When the fifth look hit the runway with the same colors, I feared that someone had kidnapped the designer and replaced her with a colorblind automaton. This couldn’t really be Versace, could it?

Oh, but then it went to light blue with black leather elements, a little yellow on the cuffs, a tiny touch of pink at the top of the collar. We’re good. And from there, the whole palette just got out of hand as Donatella proceeded to fling every color she could find at her styles for this fall/winter collection. Granted, she eased us into the meleè with careful color blocking on what’s being called athleisure wear. The asymmetrically cut skirts, the broad chokers, and the ultra-thin leather headbands sort-of-kind-of hinted at a touch of 70s influence without actually owning up to the parentage. These looks don’t want to be linked to the past, but some things like the broad bottom on those otherwise tightly tailored slacks, betray the heritage.

When Ms. Versace finally did start tossing all the colors and the prints at us it was somewhat like getting smashed upside the head with a contemporary painting. Everything came at once in places that didn’t necessarily make any sense upon first viewing, walking strongly down the runway as though they were bent on taking over the planet, which they still possibly might achieve. These are strong, bold print and color combinations merged in curved and asymmetric panels that give several of the pieces a 3D effect, almost as though the bright color is a hot liquid running underneath the dark surface. These are astonishing looks to have walk past you, if not a little bit frightening on the strength of their approach.

This is an amazing collection created for powerful women. No shrinking violets here. These are, as we’ve come to expect from the label, the superhero outfits of women who save the world on a daily basis and manage to do so without breaking a sweat. Granted, half the collection looks as though it might have some connection with a workout facility, but if they do, it’s because the woman wearing it owns the place, not because she’s actually going to do a spin class or hot yoga in that spandex. There’s no sacrificing the luxury elements, either, as Donatella uses plenty of paillettes and sequins and, unsurprisingly, no small amount of leather. One doesn’t want to actually perspire in these clothes, just look as though you might have a couple of hours earlier.

Some impressive new elements include zippers built into skirts so that one has a choice as to exactly how much skin to reveal. The new Ryder bag has a dynamic, urban touch to it, and beware of those new metallic heels that Versace says, “are like dramatic shards;” I’m pretty sure those things could cut a person. Probably not safe to wear in an airport, I’m guessing.

If one plans on grabbing one of the dresses with low, swooping drapes designed to flash some cleavage, make sure you get the extra-strong double-sided tape to go with that. There were multiple unintended exposures as those pieces made their way around the runway of concentric circles. That was really the only weak spot and I found it interesting that, once exposed, the models didn’t bother altering their stride to correct the matter. Strong women don’t mind freeing the nipple, apparently.

This Versace collection was a great presentation for the end of the day. While it started dark and perhaps even a little moody, by the time it was done spirits were lifted and everyone was ready for the afterparty. Donatella even gave model Gigi Hadid a high five as she exited the runway. We just can’t party too hard. The first show tomorrow hits at 3:30 AM EST. That’s going to be early for anyone at the Versace party tonight. I hope there are individualized pots of coffee.

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