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Versace’s Milan Fashion Week Show Goes To High Voltage Extremes – And Is As Sexy As Ever

“This collection has a rebel attitude and a kind heart,” Donatella Versace said at Versace HQ in Milan, all marble and white and gold, before Friday’s show. “Be a little bit outrageous at times but be nice inside, no? Be a good person,” she implored from a white leather sofa.

The show for Milan fashion week certainly screamed “rebel”. It was punk, high-voltage – some of the models’ hair looked as if they were carrying Van de Graaff generators – and, well, Versace.

At its heart was tailoring, which was made contemporary and, of course – it should go without saying given the context – sexy. A particular focus was on the formidably shouldered “power blazer”, a silhouette that Versace favours in her own wardrobe, accessorising it with her signature charm and doorstep-high platforms.

Donatella Versace adopts a power stance at the end of her show. Photograph: Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images“I think the power jacket gives a lot of strength, to a woman, to a man, to everybody,” Versace had said at the preview. Take Prince, which is what Versace did for this collection – a picture of him wearing a red suit, narrow-legged and pumped-up at the shoulder, was pinned to her moodboard. The pair were friends – “my friendship with him I really have in my heart,” she said – and he asked her to design suits fit for his petite frame.

A model wears a power blazer on the Versace catwalk. Photograph: Daniele Venturelli/Getty ImagesHe was, she says, “deep, he went so deep”. To be a fly on the wall when she visited him at Paisley Park, as she did a few times: “It was just me and him alone, [in an] enormous place with so many incredible things inside.”

Red leather and high-voltage hair. Photograph: Daniele Venturelli/Getty ImagesBut rather than taking Prince’s Minneapolis pad as a starting point, the set was inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The black carpet so plush as to be a tripping hazard, white cube stools sat like teeth in circles and the white walls juddering with the volume of the music, as if the audience was seated inside the mouth of a giant Versace beast.

What the beast breathed out were fiery black dresses with slits cut to several inches higher than the hip bone; red leather gloves, red leather bags, red leather coats; ribbed black leather body-con-style skirts and dresses; molto, molto sexy bustier dresses; leopard print and “slice” heels with super-pointed toes. Lengths, said Versace, were intentionally dichotomous – “extreme, to the floor if they’re long and short, nothing in the middle”.

For someone able to command the power of celebrity in a way that few others can even dream of, the catwalk was light on the kind of show-stopping names Versace sometimes choppers in – last season, for example, she deployed Claudia Schiffer in a serious flex.

There was Versace favourite Gigi Hadid, as well as Anne Hathaway on the front row. But, given reports last year that the Versace brand is losing market share, despite its supersized reputation, perhaps a bit more flexing will need to happen in the future.

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