In Los Angeles, in an unusually non-fashion week date, on the evening of March 10 (not coincidentally on the eve of the Oscars) we saw the Versace that will be. Donatella presented the FW 23/24 collection at the Pacific Design Center (West Hollywood), showcasing a “strong woman” who wears alligator-print leather coats or combines elegant sheath dresses with daring gloves and boots. Woman accompanied (occasionally) by equally strong men in sensual leather suits. The event was an opportunity for Donatella Versace to talk about the future of the maison. And, for her brother Santo, to revisit the past that, tragically, did not happen.
The Versace that will be
First of all, Donatella Versace explains the decision to show off the calendar: “I wanted to get out of fashion week a bit. Not because I don’t like it, but to have a different inspiration”. Will she put the fashion house back on the CNMI programme, MFF asks: “Yes, definitely. Milan’s fashion is Milan’s fashion”, she replies, explaining that she always prioritises calmness in doing things. “Because with this rush to make collections, you don’t even have time to experiment with certain things. By moving it almost a month, we had more time to work”.
The concepts of calm and quality go together. “There is a need for glamour, the inconspicuous kind, the kind that is not just made of sequins and glitter,” says the creative director. Streetstyle gives way to a new concept of luxury. Which one? “In my opinion, fashion must return to quality, but also move forward. Quality and tailoring are again the basis of everything,” she continues. “There was streetwear, which I also did. You match the garments and say: Wow. But then, it ends up being more styling than fashion.
Today, you have to go back to clothes and accessories. Of all of them, we worked on the Greca Goddess bag, which comes as well from the archive”. Donatella Versace’s is not conservatism, let’s be clear: “What I have insisted on now is tailoring, not in the sense of old style, but as a technique for trying new things. I still have my atelier in my office”.
The Versace that could have been
Santo Versace who, until 2004, was CEO of the company founded by his brother Gianni, has recently published his autobiography “Fratelli” with Rizzoli. Here, he recounts the merger agreement between Versace and Gucci reached in 1997 and wrecked precisely because of Gianni’s untimely death. Now, with Il Sole 24 Ore, he returns to explain how the course of the fashion system would have changed if an assassin had not prematurely ended his brother’s life. “We had come to an agreement.
Gucci, which was already listed, would have made a capital increase that we would have subscribed to by confering our company. Technically, together, we would have controlled 60% of the new combined capital. Fashion would never have been the same again. Gianni was 50 years old and at his peak. At Gucci, Tom Ford, who at that time was the most brilliant designer of his generation, was 35. They were strong in accessories. We were in clothes. A unique combination of business and people”.
Consequences in France
The merger would also change the history of French fashion. As “Kering would not have existed,” Santo argues, “because the Pinault family group, which used to be called PPR, had a fundamental transition when it definitively absorbed Gucci in 1999”. If things had gone as planned, Italy would have had its own luxury group: “Versace and Gucci would have been a true national champion,” he concludes, “with financial strength, production capacity, logistical solidity. We could have gone everywhere”.
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