Donatella Versace delivered a knockout Versace autumn/winter 2022 collection evoking ’80s power dressing. Vogue fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen reports from Milan.
It was post-pandemic power dressing
Donatella Versace described her autumn/winter 2022 show as “an elastic band pulled tight and about to snap back with a build-up of energy”. It was an accurate illustration of how the hyper-glam Versace woman she designs for must feel after two years of horrors like “homecore”, “comfort-wear”, and “WFH dressing”. This collection was the antidote: a tailored, corseted, mini-dressed punch of power to the post-pandemic wardrobe, presented on a shiny red runway with a brilliant original soundtrack that mixed what sounded like Versace’s voice with a throbbing and electrifying beat.
Tailoring was amplified
For its expert dressmaking, the Versace collection was an exercise in perfecting a few simple elements. One was tailoring: Donatella broadening the shoulders and cinched the waists of suits with voluminous trousers, evoking ’80s power dressing through an amplified lens. Skirt suits in tailoring fabrics juxtaposed a skimpy hemline with big, boxy blazers cut at the same length, while skirt suits in tweeds unravelled at the hems in a polished punk way. Throughout, she stuck to her magic body grammar, accentuating shoulders, waist and hips.
Corsets were worn throughout
Nearly every look was based on a corset: as minimal bustiers worn on their own; embedded in mini and ankle dresses; as bustiers in tailoring fabric that matched sartorial trousers; built into wool and rubber coats; evoked within long-sleeved dresses as if a waspie had been styled over them; and – most ingeniously – structured into the waist of a puffer jacket that ballooned over it. If the silhouette those corsets created didn’t already make Versace’s models pose up a storm, Donatella underpinned her looks with skin-tight rubber tops and polished latex leggings, cementing the boudoir mood of the collection.
Coats were in focus
While the show spoke the language of boudoir dressing (and undressing), it played as much with notions of the very covered-up. In that sense, it was as much a collection for coat fetishists as regular ones, especially when Versace flexed her tailoring muscle in oversized, ankle-length silk-satin coats in the gem colours of lingerie, the coat that hybridised a black duffle with the scarlet sleeves of an aviator jacket, or the wildly graphic faux fur intarsia coat in pistachio green with pink and black stripes.
Accessories drew on boudoir classics
As the show finished, screens in the centre of the runway went up to reveal Versace’s illustrious cast posing like the ’80s never ended. “Girls like Avanti, Anyier and Tilly perfectly represent a Versace with new generation attitude and they champion diversity. They embody the energy running through the collection and the looks built on contrast and tension,” Donatella said. Their legs were wildly elongated by her stacked platform heels and high boudoir stilettos with ankle straps, while the show’s ladylike Betty Page eroticism was backed up by neat leather handbags with gold chains.