The Legend Of Gianni Versace: Remembering The Icon Through His Most Memorable Showsby | July 15, 2019
Gianni Versace—the man, the maestro, the magician. The late designer, whose legacy continues to move forward and earn accolades via his eponymous label even two decades after his death, is hardly ever not the centre of a discussion. The iconic Italian fashion house he founded is one of the leading brands worldwide, now helmed by Donatella Versace.
Pop culture has paid homage to him more times than one can recall—The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, Master Of Beauty: Gianni Versace, and more have tried to uncover his life, inner workings, and his untimely death. But as grand as his life was and in complete contrast, as tragic was his death, there was more to Versace, the man who introduced fashion to sex appeal, grandeur, and glamour.
His iconic dresses, which once propelled actors to stardom are imprinted in the minds of generations to come, be it Elizabeth Hurley in a safety-pin dress that was barely held together or Jennifer Lopez in a navel-deep gown. If his 'larger than life' living was the talk of the town, his shows set the wheels of trends in motion.
Looking back, the now-iconic dresses that make appearances on the Versace runways as tributes to him had already attained their cult status back in the day. So what made Gianni a fashion force to reckon with? The clothes, the showcases or he, the designer? Maybe, it was all of them tied together, weaving an unforgettable narrative that would live long after their creator had perished. And with that sentiment in mind, here's looking at the most iconic runway shows during the reign of Gianni Versace.
On October 7, 1990, the audience in Milan settled down to view the Versace showcase that would forever be known for its perfect amalgamation of art and fashion. Vivid bodysuits featuring art deco-inspired prints, vibrant monochrome separates, classic prints juxtaposed with elements of kitsch, and iterations of little black dresses sashayed down the length of the runway. In its truest sense, it was the perfect homage to the '60s, Gianni having worked closely with the Andy Warhol Foundation to create the prints. That, mixed with Irving Penn's inimitable Vogue covers formed for a fashion spectacle, parts of which would be presented again at the house's Spring Summer 2018 collection as a tribute to the designer on his 20th death anniversary.
Autumn/Winter 1991- Ready To Wear
What started as a presentation of edgy, chic runway looks loaded with sex appeal culminated in an indelible supermodel moment, one that would catapult into a sensation. The collection was already breathtaking; models clad in selections of all-black ensembles, thigh-high boots, a plethora of the season's colours, regal prints, and a mix of checks graced the Versace runway, the house's signature sex appeal in place. Looking back, the outfits from almost two decades ago are still wearable and very much in vogue, but despite it all, what created the metaphorical stir in fashion at the advent of the new decade was the show finale. The supermodels—Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, and Linda Evangelista walked down the runway, mouthing the lyrics of Geroge Michael's “Freedom! ’90” as the score played in the background. It helped that they were the stars of the original music video, directed by David Flincher and styled by Camilla Nickerson. The zeitgeist was brought back to life by Donatella Versace for the brand's 2018 show finale, with all of Gianni's muses, namely Claudia Schiffer, Helena Christensen, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, and Carla Bruni Sarkozy walking to the same song, wearing the famed Oroton dresses made by Gianni as a tribute to him.
Autumn/Winter 1992-Miss S&M
Provocative to an extreme, the spectacle that received polarising views from the world of fashion was opened by Linda Evangelista wearing a quilted black leather coat, setting a precedent for looks that were to follow. Named Miss S&M by Versace, its apparent use of bondage as a design element led to it being labelled as the 'Bondage' show. Hints of gold, both on the apparel and in the accessories—think the gilded hairclip—glistened, adding brilliance to the black leather ensembles. Incredibly bold for a time when the world at large was still fiddling with the idea of sex, outfits from the collection have made their way to the current day, with pop icons such as Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga wearing them, and that, is all the testimony one needs.
Autumn/Winter 1995-Atelier Versace
PVC may have made its way into fashion today, but Gianni Versace was there before any of us could contemplate wearing clear vinyl as clothing. An array of models graced the catwalk in white clothing that incorporated elements of PVC, the figure-hugging dresses and gowns reflecting the light to gleam. Tone-on-tone embellishments, knee-grazing slits, and experimental necklines made appearances, the most memorable being Karen Mulder donning a sheath with a PVC ball gown as a layer. And when one thought that was all, walking down the aisle as a Versace bride was Kate Moss, a vision in a glittering mini, a veil that reached the floor, knee-high boots, and a bouquet of flowers, as one does.
Autumn/Winter 1997-Atelier Versace
Nine days after the collection was showcased in Paris, the designer was shot outside his Miami mansion on July 15 by Andrew Cunanan, making it Gianni Versace's last show. It was a departure from the house's usual aesthetics; the undercurrent of a religious theme could be clearly seen. Years later, the jewel-encrusted pieces, some fashioned from metallic mesh, would be a part of The Met's Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. There was a dominance of noir, with 53 of the 83 looks presented in black. Prints, headbands, and an array of LBDs were spotted, but what stood out was the usage of shoulder pads to create structure. The Grecian drapes and fluid fabrics made it a versatile collection that was closed by Naomi Campbell who walked down the runway wearing a rhinestone-studded dress as the Versace bride. All in all, it was a collection that promised the inception of a new Versace era, brilliantly coalesced with the house's trademark sensuality, regrettably punctuated by a tragic end.
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