For my recent couture report in Vmagazine, which you can SEE HERE, I sat down with Donatella Versace to talk about her most recent couture effort. It was an important moment for the house of Versace, the first time that she returned the Atelier Versace line back to the runway in more than half a decade. To be honest, I missed the glamour, but Donatella, it seems, is back and better than ever.
Derek Blasberg: Donatella, welcome back to the haute couture runway. After showing your show in a smaller presentation on mannequins, why did you think this was a good time to show the clothes on bodies again?
Donatella Versace: Fashion is all about timing, and I just felt the time was right for Versace to put couture on centre stage again. It’s very similar to the approach I adopted with Versus; for many years I wanted to concentrate on Versace prêt-à-porter, so I put Versus on the back burner. Then, when I was comfortable with the main line I reintroduced the Versus line with Christopher Kane as my creative collaborator. Now Versus is established, so it is time to focus on Atelier Versace again. It’s a journey here.
DB: So, now that you’re in the couture world again, what are your thoughts on the present state of that part of the industry? Who is your couture client, and what does she want from you?
DV: Couture is really important for a house like Versace because it gives me the opportunity to show how my imagination works: Fashion without boundaries and commercial restraints, made using the skills of artisans who are wonderfully steeped in the history of hand-made clothing. My couture clients are typical Versace women – strong, confident and in search of sexy, glamorous gowns that make them the dramatic centre of attention. This vibe is sex and glamour, viewed through an Italian lens. It’s what I try to deliver in the main line too, but with couture I can indulge my dreams and express this look in its purest form.
DB: Let’s talk about this particular season: What were your references? What kind of women were you thinking of when you were putting this collection together?
DV: I had in my mind a glamorous warrior woman. She wears sculpted, body-conscious designs that have a bold, futuristic look. I imagined these gowns to be like sexy body-armour, something a modern woman can wear to dazzle and impress.
DB: I can definitely see that.
DV: The design process was very architectural too. I constructed the dresses to incorporate strips of gold-plated metal, laser-cut embroidery and lots of crystals and sequins.
DB: Your couture designs are red carpet favorites: Do you have any favorite red carpet moments?
DV: There have been many, and not all have involved Atelier Versace. There are also spectacular gowns in Versace prêt-à-porter. Two particular pieces, however, immediately spring to mind, and they are interesting because they represent different extremes of my approach. The Jungle Dress worn by Jennifer Lopez to the Grammys in 2000 [see below] was an astonishing feat of fabric engineering – a flimsy thing made from just a few pieces of printed fabric. It was very, very sexy, and provoked a crazy reaction. Jennifer is of course a very sexy woman, but I think the Jungle Dress had special impact because it showed that she was really proud of her sensuality.
DB: What’s the second red carpet moment that comes to mind?
DV: Earlier this year there was a similar – though less frenzied – response to Angelina Jolie, who wore an Atelier Versace dress to the Golden Globes in January [see below]. This couldn’t have been less like the Jungle Dress, though in its own way the gown was equally a great example of architectural fashion design. It was a cream satin strapless long creation and showed off Angelina’s beautifully feminine figure. However, this time the dress revealed almost nothing – just her elegant shoulder and neck, and a cheeky peek of leg through a thigh-high split. This was a classical Grecian look, created by ruching and drape, and Angelina looked both extremely elegant and wonderfully sexy in it. Both dresses were very Versace, but each achieved this effect in a different way.
DB: Apart from famous film actresses on the red carpet, where else is a good place to wear a couture dress?
DV: The whole point of a couture dress is that it should make you feel like you are a film actress on the red carpet, even if you’re not. So any glamorous party is a great opportunity to wear couture.
DB: Do you have a favorite look from this collection?
DV: I just love all the built-in corsetry. It is a key feature of the collection. The gowns are very architectural and I really like this aspect of the look. It is always amazing when you see a woman wearing a strapless bodice. And Karlie Kloss looked great in the first outfit [see below]. It really showed the elongated, super-feminine hourglass effect I was after, and which I hope we achieved.
To see my entire couture report from the May issue of V magazine, CLICK HERE